Shares in Irish food maker Kerry Group climbed this morning (17 August) after the company reported an increase in half-year sales and profits.

The company, which makes consumer brands like Wall's sausages as well as ingredients for food manufacturers around the world, reported net profit of EUR144.4m (US$209.1m) for the six months to the end of June, up 9% on the year.

Kerry said its trading profit rose 6.1% on a like-for-like basis to EUR214m. It said its underlying business trading margin "increased significantly". However, Kerry revealed margins on a reported basis were down 0.3% due to the lag in recovering higher input prices and to costs linked to its "One Kerry" business transformation project.

Competition in Ireland and the UK meant Kerry's margins from consumer foods were down 30 basis points, although trading profit was up 6% on a like-for-like basis to EUR64m. Revenue from consumer foods rose 5.3% to EUR944m.

Margins from Kerry's larger ingredients and flavours division were unchanged despite "significant" raw-material and input cost increases, it said. Like-for-like trading profit from the unit increased 9.7% to EUR181m. Revenue climbed 9.6% to EUR1.97bn.

The company's group revenue increased by 8.4% on a like-for-like basis to EUR2.6bn. Volumes were up 3.6%.

Chief executive Stan McCarthy said: "Kerry delivered a solid earnings performance and strong volume growth in the first half of 2011, despite significant raw material and input cost inflation. The group remains confident of achieving its growth targets for the full year and delivering eight to twelve per cent growth in adjusted earnings per share as guided at the beginning of the year."

Shares in Kerry were up 3.6% at EUR27.50 at 10:30 today.

Click here for the full release from Kerry.