Executive bonus freeze fails to ignite Aryzta share price

Aryzta chief executive Owen Killian has seen his near-€1m annual performance-related bonus ‘withheld’, pending improvement in the troubled food group’s yearly earnings.

Executive bonus freeze fails to ignite Aryzta share price

The move, however, failed to inject any real excitement among the group’s investor base which has steadily been losing confidence in the stock for the past year.

The Irish-Swiss bread and baked goods group’s newly-published annual report notes that the CHF958,000 (€877,690) bonus for its chief executive “has been withheld pending resumption of growth in underlying fully diluted earnings per share”.

The inclusion of the bonus would have boosted Mr Killian’s total remuneration package — for the 12 months to the end of July — to CHF2.51m (€2.3m), compared to a total pay-out of just under CHF1.86m for fiscal year 2015.

However, without the bonus, his total package for the latest financial year amounts to just over CHF1.55m.

Mr Killian’s basic salary was unchanged, last year, at CHF1.277m.

Aryzta, last week, said it was confident of meeting its 2017 earnings target of 358c per share.

That was on the back of a harsh set of 2016 annual results, showing an 8.2% fall in pre-tax profits to €365.5m and a near 13% drop in earnings per share to 350c.

Mr Killian — who has slipped down the pecking order of highest paid Irish CEOs in the past couple of years — has come under pressure this year, with investor confidence waning after Aryzta’s €451m splurge on a 49% stake in French food firm Picard and him selling two-thirds of his Aryzta shareholding, for €16m.

Outgoing chairman Denis Lucey — who is due to be replaced by Gary McGann at the end of the year — partly blamed 2016’s earnings decline on increased investment on brand marketing in North America, but Aryzta has also suffered contract losses there.

Mr Lucey also said Picard — which is independently managed — had performed well, in both revenue and earnings terms, since investment. Aryzta still holds an option to buy the company outright.

Aryzta’s share price has fallen by around 50% in the past 18 months and is currently down around 13% from the start of this year.

Yesterday, however, it was up by nearly 3% - in Dublin – for most of the day before closing ahead by just 0.7% at €40.

Aryzta — which was formed by the 2008 merger between IAWS and Switzerland’s Hiestand — last week said that underlying revenue growth will likely remain subdued in the current financial year but that the business remains “well-positioned” to serve the increasing demand for high-quality speciality food.

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