Associated British Foods, which is one of the UK’s biggest food companies, has reported a 13% rise in half-year profits.

ABF, which makes Kingsmill bread and Silver Spoon sugar, reported underlying pre-tax profits of £216m (US$340.4m) for the 24 weeks to 1 March, beating analysts’ forecasts of £205-210m, reported Reuters.

Chief executive Peter Jackson said operating profits grew 14% in the first half and said he was happy with analysts’ forecasts for the full year, which analysts say are around £460-470m at the pre-tax level.

“These are a strong set of numbers, and we can see nothing out there on the trading front to change our ideas for the second half,” Jackson was quoted by Reuters as saying.

New chairman Martin Adamson, however, added a note of caution, warning there was no sign of improvement in the difficult economic and political conditions.

“We expect further significant operating profit growth in the second half of the year, although it is unlikely to be as strong as in the first half,” Adamson said.

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By GlobalData

The company, which makes Ryvita crispbread and Twinings tea, said overall sales rose 8% to £2.26bn, while adjusted earnings per share increased 14% to 19.3p.