AB Foods says first-half profit held back by sugar​

Total first half sales at Primark, the fashion chain which accounts for about half of group revenue and profit.

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LONDON (Reuters) – Primark owner Associated British Foods on Monday forecast flat first half profit, held back by a previously flagged reduction in sugar revenues, but maintained its full-year outlook.

The group, which also owns major grocery, agriculture and ingredients businesses, said lower finance costs and a lower effective tax rate would lead to progress in first-half adjusted earnings per share (EPS).

AB Foods made an adjusted operating profit of 652 million pounds in the first half of its 2016-17 year and adjusted EPS of 59.7 pence.

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For the full 2017-18 year, AB Food’s outlook was unchanged with “progress” expected in both adjusted operating profit and adjusted EPS.

Total first half sales at Primark, the fashion chain which accounts for about half of group revenue and profit, were forecast to be up 7 percent at constant currency rates, with like-for-like sales down 1 percent but up 1 percent in the second quarter.

The group forecast first-half sales growth in all of its other businesses apart from sugar.

Shares in the group, majority owned by the family of Chief Executive George Weston, have fallen 6 percent so far this year, partly due to the outlook for its sugar business.

In January AB Foods had warned that revenue and profit from sugar would fall more than previously forecast in 2017-18 because of lower prices across the European Union.

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