By Geoff Percival
Shares in Irish fruit and vegetable distributor Total Produce fell by more than 2% despite the company reporting strong double-digit percentage revenue and profit growth for last year.
The former general produce arm of banana grower Fyffes reported near 14% revenue growth to €4.29bn for the year, with pre-tax profits surging by over 43% to €72.5m. Adjusted fully-diluted earnings per share rose by close to 12% to 13.48c. Adjusted EBITDA, one of Total's key performance indicators, increased by over 10% to €104.4m. However, its shares - up by close to 29% over the past 12 months - dipped nearly 2.1% yesterday.
Total's chairman Carl McCann said the company had delivered "very positive results" for the year - supported by a 10% increase in total dividend to 3.34c per share - and is targeting continued like-for-like growth this year.
Last month, Total agreed to buy a 45% stake in US fruit giant Dole, for €241m, with the deal - Total's largest transactional move to date - set to be partially funded by a $150m share placing.
Speaking further on the Dole deal, Total's chairman Carl McCann said the deal represents "a very significant step in the history of Total Produce and a continuation of its successful acquisition and expansion strategy".
Total has the option to buy a further 6% stake in Dole over the next couple of years and ultimately the entire company within five years. Merrion Stockbrokers recently upped its 12-month share price target for Total Produce from €2.55 to €3.05 and said the deal could boost the Dublin-based fruit company's market value from €800m to €2bn in time.