Hilton Food Group on track in H1

Hilton Food Group 'on track' in H1

UK meat processor Hilton Food Group has said its first-half performance was "in line" with expectations, as softness in some markets was offset by faster growth elsewhere.

In a trading statement released this morning (18 July), Hilton said its sales performance was driven by new product lines, which contributed to growth against a backdrop of "challenging conditions".

In the UK and Ireland, the group's performance was hit by "industry issues", particularly in the first-quarter, and constrained consumer spending. This softness was offset by gains in Sweden and Denmark. Hilton's business in Central Europe continued to perform "in line", the group added.

The company added that the development of its partnership with Woolworths, which will open up the Australian market, was progressing to plan.

According to Panmure Gordon analyst Graham Jones, who maintains a "buy" recommendation on Hilton stock, modest start-up costs associated with this business in the first-half are expected to be offset by a second-half contribution to the bottom line.

"We expect modest start-up losses at the Australian JV to hold EPS progress back in H1, but the development work at Bunbury remains on schedule and as such we expect a H2 contribution from Australia, and maintain our full-year forecast of 4.6% EPS growth."

Hilton is scheduled to report its full first-half numbers on 10 September.

For just-food's commentary on Hilton's Australian expansion, which was announced in January, click here

Show the press release

                        TRADING STATEMENT FOR THE 28 WEEKS ENDED 14th JULY
Hilton Food Group plc, Europe's leading specialist retail meat packing business, is today providing an update on trading for the 28 weeks ended 14th July.
During the period, our performance has been in line with the Board's expectations. We have continued to benefit from our geographical diversity and new product lines to grow the business against the backdrop of challenging conditions for the consumer in some markets. During the first half Hilton has also benefited from a positive movement in foreign exchange translation.
In Western Europe we have made good progress in a number of markets. We are pleased with the sustained progress in our newest facility in Denmark, where during the first half we added a new production line to extend our capacity. Meanwhile volumes of product being sorted by the new robotic store order picking facility in Denmark continue to build. The Dutch business is benefitting from the introduction of new  lines, such as marinated sliced products and a pork stir-fry range, and there has also been steady turnover growth in Sweden. In Ireland and the UK our businesses were affected in the first quarter by well publicised industry issues while economic conditions have remained challenging, with consumer spending constrained. Our business in Central Europe, where Hilton supplies customers in seven countries, has continued to perform in line with expectations.
In Australia, the development work by the Joint Venture at Bunbury is proceeding in line with the agreed plan.
The Group's financial position remains strong, there being no significant changes to this position since the financial year end.
Hilton continues to explore opportunities to grow the business in both domestic and overseas markets.
The Group intends to publish its Half Year results on 10th  September 2013.

Original source: Hilton Food Group