Pre-tax profits up 16% at C&C

Drinks group C&C has reported a 16% increase in full-year pre-tax profits, despite seeing core revenues in its Irish cider business fall by nearly 9%.

The Dublin-headquartered group — which is still chiefly known for its twin cider brands of Bulmers and Magners — generated profits, before tax and exceptional items, of €106.1 million for the 12 months to the end of February; up by 16% from the €91.5m reported in the previous year.

Operating profit, before exceptionals, was up by over 10% at €111.2m; while net group revenue fell by 4.8% to €480.8m.

The year saw contrasting results from the group’s two key geographical markets. In Ireland, net revenue in the cider division fell by 8.5% to €91.5m. The same division in Britain saw revenue growth of just over 4% to €136.4m. Beer revenue in Britain was up by 23% and by over 16% in Ireland.

Management said that the Magners brand, in Britain, “remains in excellent health”. Its cider profits, there, grew by nearly 6% during the year; but fell by 2.3% in Ireland.

C&C’s adjusted earnings per share grew by 13.6% last year to 27.6c and the full-year dividend to shareholders was up by 24% to 8.17c; on the back of a 4.5c per share proposed final dividend.

Management noted that the company’s strong balance sheet will allow it to pursue “a progressive dividend policy” for the foreseeable future.

Group chief executive Stephen Glancey yesterday said that the latest annual performance was robust, despite challenging market conditions.

“While we remain cautious about the near-term prospects of our core markets, the continuing global growth of the cider category... & underscore our belief in the prospects of our business.”

Mr Glancey added that maintaining and developing its core domestic businesses has been a key objective for C&C, but momentum has been built across several markets in its international business, particularly in the US.

Despite the relatively upbeat nature of C&C’s results, the company’s share price took a 1.8% dip, yesterday, to close at €3.52.


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