16 March 2001

Glanbia sees small operating profit lift

By Robert Harris

IRISH milk and meat processor Glanbia has reported a slight rise in operating profits from continuing operations, helped by a stronger second half performance which offset a slow start.

Operating profit for the year ending Dec 30, 2000 rose by just over k1m compared with the previous year to k82.71m (£52.1m). That is a margin of 3.4% on sales of k2.4bn (k2.32bn in 1999).

Pre-tax profits hit k79.53, including a net gain of k25.84m mainly from the sale of a 49% interest in Glanbia Cheese Limited to Leprino Foods, to help boost sales of pizza cheese in Europe, and the disposal of the sheepmeat business in Camolin. That compares with a pre-tax loss of k34.77m in 1999, largely caused by costs associated with the disposal of the UK liquid milk business and Irish beef operations.

Strongest performers in the past year include food ingredients, which encompass the US and Irish cheese business and dairy ingredients operations, the focus of Glanbias restructuring which started in 1999.

Consumer foods – dairy and meat processing and marketing – slipped, mainly due to a poor performance in the UK food service and consumer meats divisions.

The agribusiness division, which includes milk and grain procurement, animal feed production and farm input supplies, also saw sales dip.

While the group predicts an improved year-on-year performance in 2001, the financial impact of foot-and-mouth is impossible to predict, it says. &#42