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Smurfit Kappa to pay dividend despite earnings fall

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Tony Smurfit

Tony Smurfit

Tony Smurfit

Smurfit Kappa is to pay a dividend of €193m , despite a fall in earnings in the first half of the year.

In April the board withdrew its recommendation to pay a final dividend of 80.9 cent per share.

It has now decided to pay an interim dividend, the equivalent amount of the withdrawn final dividend, on the back of its belief in the strength of the business.

This comes as revenue at the paper packaging giant fell 9pc to €4.2bn in the six months to June 30.

The performance reflected the negative impact of Covid-19 on demand, the adverse impact of currency, and the fall in box prices, according to a trading update.

Nonetheless, the group’s customers primarily operate in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) sector, which, the company said, has been “resilient” during the pandemic to date.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (ebitda) fell by 13pc to €735m during the period, while the ebitda margin declined less than 1pc to 17.5pc.

The group reported profit before tax of €383m, down 16pc on the corresponding period in 2019.

Tony Smurfit, Smurfit Kappa CEO, said: “We are very pleased to report another strong performance across all our key metrics for the first half of 2020.

Our EBITDA of €735m with a margin of 17.5pc, together with strong free cash flow of €238m, demonstrate the strength of the group.”

In the Americas, after a strong start to the year, volumes in the region were heavily impacted by Covid-19 during the second quarter. As aresult, volumes for the first half were down 2.6pc year-on-year.

In Europe, ebitda decreased by 16pc to €575m.

Looking forward, the company said it’s principle risks were if the current economic climate were to deteriorate as a result of geopolitical uncertainty, including Brexit, trade tensions and/or the current Covid-19 pandemic.

This could result in an increased economic slowdown, which if sustained over any significant length of time, could adversely affect the group's financial position and results of operations, it said.

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