Tougher competition and a product mix more heavily focused on low-priced products were to blame for the poor full-year earnings increase posted by Swedish meat group Sardus. The group failed to meet its pre-tax earnings forecast of SKr96m, managing director Ragnar Bringert reported.

Sardus increased its full-year pre-tax profit to SKr75m from SKr73m in 1999. Including a one-time pension repayment, the group boosted its pre-tax profit to SKr91m. Sardus improved operating profit before goodwill write-offs rose to from SKr97m in 1999 to SKr125m, but failed to improve the operating profit margin from 10.6%, as had been forecast.

Turnover rose 30% to SKr1.2bn, and Bringert said about 85% of the sales increase was attributed to the acquistion of Danish group 3-stjernet, for which results were consolidated for 2000. Mr Bringert confirmed 3-stjernet had contributed the envisaged SKr10m to group profit.

Sardus is listed on the Stockholm Stock Exchange. Its largest shareholder is the Federation of Swedish Farmers, LRF, which holds about 30% of shares.

By Jerry Simonsson, correspondent