Aryzta has said that it expects its underlying earnings per share to show a return to double-digit percentage growth next year.
The Irish-Swiss bakery group — formed nearly five years ago through the merger of IAWS and Zurich-based company, Hiestand — yesterday reported what its management called a “robust” set of first-half results, covering the six months to the end of January.
Underlying net profit for the group rose by 5.6% — on a year-on-year basis — to €129.4m; with underlying fully diluted earnings per share up by 0.5% to 146.4c.
Earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) increased by 4.2% to €186.3m and group revenue was up by 8.2% to €2.07bn.
“Aryzta’s underlying net profit performance wasrobust, despite challenging trading conditions,” Owen Killian, group chief executive, said.
Mr Killian said the company had managed “good progress” on reducing its net debt levels, despite significant investments made in regard to the ongoing Aryzta Transformation Initiative restructuring programme, which should be completed during the group’s next financial year — running to the end of July 2014.
As of the end of January, Aryzta’s net debt was 1.79 times its EBITDA; down from a ratio of 2.13 at the halfway stage of its previous financial year.
Mr Killian added that the consensus — for Aryzta’s current financial year — for earnings per share growth, to 363.5c, “looks reasonable, at this stage”.
Last month saw Aryzta purchase German bakery company Klemme in a €280m deal (yet to be completed but expected to have a small positive effect on this year’s results) aimed at “substantially” transforming the group’s European manufacturing business.
In the first half of its financial year, Aryzta’s European food division managed to increase revenue by 2%, on a year-on-year basis, with earnings rising by 4.6%.
Overall, the food unit (including north America and the rest of the world) increased revenue by nearly 7%, to €1.5bn.
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