Origin weathers the storms to post 11.7pc rise in profits
PROFITS at Irish food and agri-business group Origin Enterprises jumped by just over a tenth in the past year as its agri-services activities stayed robust despite challenging weather.
The company, controlled by Swiss food giant Aryzta, saw sales rise by 6pc to €1.4bn while pre-tax profits jumped by 11.7pc to €84.6m in the year to the end of the July.
Chief executive Tom O'Mahony said food producers "experienced unprecedented challenges" during the year as "unseasonable weather patterns made for an extremely difficult planning environment", but that its main focus, agri-services, was nonetheless "robust against this backdrop".
On the back of the results, the company has proposed a 15pc increase in its proposed annual dividend, bringing it to 17.25 a share. The dividend will be paid on December 2 to shareholders on the register on November 20, 2013.
Origin's agri-services division provide technical and strategic advice to farmers and includes Irish fertiliser business Goulding, UK grain and vegetable consultancy Agrii and Dalgety Agra Polska, which serves farm businesses in Poland. Excluding the impact of currency movements, like-for-like agri-services revenues rose by €60.8m or 4.5pc, chiefly reflecting higher nutrition and grain marketing volumes in Poland offset by lower crop protection sales in the UK.
The group also has a 32pc shareholding in consumer foods company Valeo, which includes among brands like Batchelors beans, Fruitfield jams, Roma pasta and Club snacks.
It said Valeo performed "in line with expectations'' in what continues to be a highly challenging and competitive environment for the Irish grocery sector.
The group sold its 50pc interest in fish oils joint venture Welcon Invest to former partner Austevoll Seafoods during the period.
It said it will now return up to €100m to shareholders by way of a tender offer, "as a direct result" of the Welcon sale.
Shares in Origin were up 1.5pc to €6.60 in early trading.