Kerry shares rise on strong outlook

Chief Executive Edmond Scanlon pictured at the Westin Hotel in Dublin at the media briefing of the Kerry Group Preliminary Results end year 2018. Photo: Sam Boal/ Rollingnews.ie.

Kerry Group shares rose 1.2% as the ingredients and consumer foods giant reaffirmed its full-year earnings targets guidance of 6% to 10% and said more acquisitions are planned.

Kerry's shares have gained almost 19% in the past year, rising consistently since a brief dip in late December, to value the firm at just over €17.8bn.

The group reaffirmed its 2019 guidance for 6%-10% adjusted earnings per share growth, allowing for fluctuations in currency, and said its balance sheet remains strong for organic growth as well as acquisitions.

Kerry has bought a number of US businesses in recent months, including spending a combined €685m on four speciality ingredients and sauce firms between October and December.

Kerry's first quarter revenues rose 10.3%, with a 3.8% increase in its core taste and nutrition division fuelled by demand for meat, snacks and dairy products.

Demand for healthier products across the world fuelled growth in both the US and the EU, while there was 9.3% growth in Asia led by China, Kerry said.

Its consumer foods division -- which includes brands such as Cheestrings, Galtee and Denny -- saw 0.8% growth, which the firm said was a "solid performance in the context of a subdued marketplace".

Increased consumer demand for so-called "food for life and wellbeing" products was "noteworthy" and would drive its innovation, Kerry said.

Chief executive Edmond Scanlon said: "We have made a solid start to the year with overall business performance in line with expectations."

The recently announced acquisitions have performed very well and we are pleased with the progress made on their integration.

"We are encouraged by our progress in the quarter and reaffirm our full year 2019 guidance," he said.

Goodbody said its full-year guidance outlook of 8% was unlikely to change as the results were broadly in line with its expectations. Davy said it was a "good start" to the financial year for Kerry.

"With a strengthening innovation pipeline and mergers and acquisitions noted as performing very well, Kerry remains well placed," Davy said.

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