Kerry Group shares can keep outdoing those of rivals

Outgoing Kerry Group boss Stan McCarthy yesterday pointed to bright times ahead for the Tralee-based diversified food group, as he prepared to formally hand the running of the company over to chief executive designate Edmond Scanlon.

Kerry Group shares can keep outdoing those of rivals

Keeping ahead in a rapidly changing food industry will be Mr Scanlon’s biggest challenge.

After posting a decent set of first-half results, all eyes will now turn to the unveiling of Kerry’s five-year growth plan on October 11.

Kerry’s share price is up by over 13% since the turn of the year. Its market value is now around €13.5bn; more than 330% higher than when Mr McCarthy took the helm in 2008. Kerry’s increasing focus on taste, flavourings, food science, technology and nutrition; and away from a reliance on consumer foods has seen its shares significantly outperform industry giants — and customers — like Nestlé and Danone in the second half of Mr McCarthy’s reign.

If you had invested €100 in Kerry, Nestlé, and Danone five years ago, your investment in the latter two would only have grown by around 40%, while you would have doubled your money in Kerry by now.

Last month, Nestlé warned it is on course, this year, for its weakest annual sales growth in two decades, while Danone said sales had slowed in the second quarter of the year.

Both companies are seeking new avenues to growth, Nestlé looking to invest more in health as consumers become increasingly wary of packaged food.

Kerry’s new boss sees this as an opportunity, not a threat, and is eyeing further collaboration potential on the back of it.

Kerry’s revenues are comfortably outperforming the market average — on a group and divisional basis — and the changing of the guard to someone with hands-on knowledge of developing markets is likely to further whet investors’ appetites.

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