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AB Foods earnings held back by sugar

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Via Yahoo Finance

LONDON (Reuters) – Associated British Foods reported flat first-half earnings on Wednesday, reflecting a near wiping out of profit from its sugar operation that was offset by growth in its other businesses.

The group, which owns the Primark fashion chain, food brands such as Ovaltine, Ryvita and Twinings, and major sugar, agriculture and ingredients businesses, said on Wednesday it made adjusted earnings per share of 61.1 pence in the 24 weeks to March 2 on revenue up 1 percent to 7.53 billion pounds.

Adjusted operating profit in sugar slumped to just 1 million pounds from 106 million pounds in the same period last year.

The group had cautioned that sugar profit would be significantly lower this year, reflecting lower European Union sugar prices for contracts negotiated at the end of the last financial year. However, it said an upward trend in EU sugar prices should benefit results going forward.

Primark’s profit increased 25 percent in the first half, while grocery’s rose 5 percent.

For the full 2018-19 year AB Foods maintained its previous guidance for the group of adjusted EPS in line with the 2017-18 outcome.

Shares in AB Foods, majority owned by the family of Chief Executive George Weston, have increased 23 percent so far this year. They closed Tuesday at 2,506 pence, valuing the business at 19.9 billion pounds.

(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle)

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