Shares in Irish food group Glanbia rose this morning (12 November) after the company reaffirmed its target for a 20% increase in annual earnings.

In a trading update, Glanbia said the business had put in a “strong performance” during the period from 4 July to 11 November, which, it said, followed an “excellent” first half to 3 July.

The group said its Irish dairy division was having “a mixed year” with its dairy ingredients unit returning to profitability but “very difficult” conditions hitting its consumer business. For the full year, Glanbia’s Irish consumer business unit is expected to deliver “lower” results than the previous 12 months.

In the US, Glanbia said its cheese business was having a “reasonable” year as the refurbishment of its Twin Falls plant and higher prices for milk offset the improved cheese markets.

Glanbia groups its US cheese business with its global nutritionals arm and said it expects operating profit margin from the businesses to be “lower” than a year earlier – due to reduced cheese margins and input costs hitting the nutrition business.

However, the company added: “Disciplined financial, operational and strategic execution across the business is delivering a strong recovery in performance this year.

“The board is confident that Glanbia will achieve strong revenue and operating profit growth for the full year and the group reiterates adjusted earnings per share guidance of approximately 20% growth for 2010.”

Shares in Glanbia were up 2.5% at EUR3.33 at 11:18 GMT this morning.