farmer giles | 12.11.2003 11:18
This will probably make them even angrier
LONDON (Reuters) - Dairy Crest has posted a 12 percent rise in half-year profits and says it expects its performance for the full year to show continuing good progress.
The company DCG.L , which markets Utterly Butterly spreads, Cathedral City cheddar cheese and Yoplait yoghurts and desserts, on Wednesday reported pretax profits of 35.4 million pounds for the six months to September 30 in line with analyst forecasts of 34.5-35.9 million pounds.
The group, one of Britain's biggest milk suppliers, reported a strong performance from its key branded business with Cathedral City, Yoplait and Frijj flavoured milk drinks all shows volume growth over 10 percent.
"We expect performance for the full year, including the benefits of St Ivel spreads, to show continued good progress," said Chief Executive Drummond Hall in a results statement.
Dairy Crest has expanded rapidly, buying Unigate's milk and cheese business in July 2000 and St Ivel spreads last year. It is moving to focus on more profitable value-added, branded products, which now accounts for over half of group profits, and away from the commodity liquid milk and mild cheese areas.
The company, which also makes Country Life butter and Clover spreads, proposed a half-year dividend up eight percent at 5.5 pence a share.
The group has suffered depressed profit margins caused by excess cheese stocks which hit a peak in August 2002, but excess cheese is being eaten away and the group expects gross margins on cheese to improve towards "more normal sustainable levels".
Dairy Crest shares have risen strongly since a low of almost 300 pence in February to close on Tuesday at 487p, compared to its 1996 float price of 155p. They have outperformed the FTSE 100 index by 30 percent since the start of this year.