Improving demand for poultry products in France and less volatile commodity costs have helped LDC, the country's largest poultry processor, book rising half-year earnings - and up its annual profit target.

The company yesterday (25 November) posted a 54.5% jump in net profit to EUR25.5m (US$38.5m) for the six months to the end of August.

Operating profit, meanwhile, climbed 51.4% to EUR38.3m. The improved profits came despite a dip in turnover, which slipped 0.5% to EUR924.8m.

More than two-thirds of LDC's turnover comes from France and the company said better consumer confidence had helped domestic sales volumes.

Excluding LDC's upstream activities, volumes rose 3% and generated domestic sales of EUR636.9m - which inched up from EUR636.6m a year ago.

Outside France, where LDC has gone through a period of restructuring, volumes fell 2.4%. However, the group characterised the fall as a "small decline" and said a halt to non-strategic businesses and a relaunch of value-added products in Poland helped its overseas operations.

Moreover, LDC's international business reported an operating profit of EUR2.8m - against a loss of EUR4.4m a year earlier.

The company said that, subject to stable commodity prices and buoyant sales over Christmas, its margins should be protected.

LDC also predicted that its international business would continue to recover and forecast operating profit from the unit of EUR5m.

After posting the first-half numbers, LDC said it is now targeting annual operating profit of EUR80m - up from a May forecast of EUR75m.