South African food and drink maker Pioneer Food Group expects its earnings per share for the first half of its financial year to be up to 55% lower than a year earlier.

Pioneer said its earnings per share for the six months to 31 March are expected to be between 38% and 55% down on the year at between 252 and 347.3 cents.

The company said its headline earnings per share were also expected to be between 38% and 55% lower at 250.4 to 345 cents.

Pioneer said the earning per share it booked in the first half of its previous financial year were “significantly enhanced” by an IFRS 2 share-based payment gain of ZAR142.7m relating to a black economic empowerment transaction.

The company expects to see an “improved performance” in the second half of its financial year due to factors including an expected improvement of profits from maize, a “satisfactory” raisin crop and new capacity coming on-stream for its Weet-Bix cereals. It also expects to see “cost respite on key inputs”.