Thursday 22 February 2018

Total Produce lifts earnings guidance

John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Fruit and vegetable distributor Total Produce has raised its earnings guidance and said that it is in a "strong financial position" and continues to pursue attractive acquisition opportunities.

The company said that trading in the first four months of the year had been "satisfactory" and that it was raising its full-year adjusted earnings per share target to the upper half of a previously announced range of between 12 cent and 13 cent.

Shares in the company, whose chief executive is Rory Byrne, jumped as much as 3.6pc in Dublin, giving Total Produce a market capitalisation of €649m.

Total Produce, in which the McCann family owns just over 11pc, retains very low debt levels, despite having spent €60m on acquisitions last year.

In March, it acquired an additional 30pc of the Canada-based fruit and vegetable distributor Oppenheimer Group (Oppy) for €28.4m, bringing its total stake in the business to 65pc. Oppy operates from a network of locations throughout North America.

Goodbody Stockbrokers is currently forecasting earnings per share of 12.8 cent, which would be a 6pc year-on-year rise. It said its forecast is primarily driven by the acquisition of the additional Oppy stake.

"We retain our positive stance on the stock given its consistent track record and scope to grow via acquisition," said Goodbody analyst Patrick Higgins.

Total Produce, which has operations in 26 countries, has been expanding its presence in the US, but Mr Byrne told the Irish Independent in a recent interview that opportunities to grow within Europe also exist.

Irish Independent

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