A raft of first quarter and first half results kept the pages of just-food turning this week, and the fragile recovery being seen in the global economy is being mirrored by some encouraging signs in our sector. Heinz, Kerry Group, Carrefour and Del Monte all came out in credit.
Meanwhile, predictions that defensive moves by Casey’s General Stores last week would end Couche-Tard’s effort to acquire the retailer have proved unfounded. There were also further developments at the UK’s FSA and M&A news from Greece, where companies seek ways to deal with their catastrophic economic environment.
HJ Heinz reported a rise in first quarter profits this week as sales in developing markets soared. Earnings reached US$240m compared to $213m in the prior year, while reported sales climbed 1.6% to $2.48bn as Heinz delivered 3.6% organic sales growth across its global portfolio.
The UK government has announced that it has made changes to which departments have responsibility for food labelling policy. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) will retain responsibility for food safety aspects of labelling, but in England, other responsibilities will go to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
Casey’s General Stores has rebuffed Couche-Tard’s latest attempt to acquire the convenience operator, advising shareholders not to take any action regarding the latest tender offer.
Irish food manufacturer Kerry Group has said it is taking a “harder look” at expanding in the emerging markets. Speaking on the firm’s earnings conference, chief executive Stan McCarthy told analysts that Kerry has to keep investing in the business and that acquisitions will always be a part of the firm’s strategy.
Irish food manufacturer Kerry Group delivered “strong” growth in the first half of the year. For the six months to the end of June, trading profit increased 12.9% to EUR204m (US$258.6m), reflecting a 7.4% like-for-like increase and a 40 basis point improvement in the group’s trading profit margin to 8.4%.
US food group Del Monte Foods is optimistic that its consumer business will bounce back in the second half. The firm recorded an increase in first quarter profits and reaffirmed its full-year guidance.
Vivartia has signed an acquisition agreement that should see it acquire a 58% stake in Greek dairy group Mevgal. In a statement, Vivartia – Greece’s largest food group – said that it had signed the agreement with the Papadakis-Chatzitheodorou family, which holds a 43% stake in Mevgal.
Carrefour SA has returned to profit in its first half with sales growth driven by a strong performance in emerging markets such as China. The company said that for the six months to 30 June 30, it recorded a net profit of EUR82m (US$104m) compared to a loss of EUR58m in the year-earlier period.