C&C Group reports 'robust' year

Wed, May 16, 2012, 01:00

Drinks group C&C met market expectations with the publication of its full year financial results this morning, reporting a jump in pre-tax profit to €110.9 million in a "robust" year for the business.

Operating profit was also up, increasing by 9 per cent, before exceptional items, to €111.2 million, although revenues fell back by 6.9 per cent to €716.7 million, against a backdrop of "challenging economic conditions" in Ireland and the UK.

Stephen Glancey, C&C Group CEO, described the group's performance as "strong".

"This has been a robust year for the group. In our domestic markets, our brands and businesses performed well against a tough economic backdrop. Maintaining and developing our core domestic businesses has been a key objective, alongside brand innovation and international development. We are also building momentum across several markets in our international business," he said.

"Our business model seeks growth through our brand-market combination, combining brand investment with a focus on local markets. In a challenging economic environment in Ireland and the UK, the Group’s results for the year demonstrate the resilience of this model," he added.

However he noted that the group remains "cautious" about the near term prospects of its core markets and the continuing global growth of the cider category.

In the UK, C&C's Magners brand delivered "positive volume and revenue growth", but its 28 per cent export volume growth was largely driven by North American and Australian markets. In Ireland, the group reported "stable earnings" at €44.4 million. Its Irish cider division delivered operating profit of €42.2 million, while operating profit from the group’s beer portfolio increased to €2.2 million.

C&C also announced a 24 per cent increase its full year dividend, up to 8.17 cent, representing a payout ratio of 30 per cent.

"The Board intends to pursue a progressive dividend policy which is underpinned by a strong balance sheet and high free cash flow," Mr Glancey said.

Looking ahead, Mr Glancey suggested that both C&C’s "balance sheet strength and free cash flow characteristics" will allow it to eye up potential acquisitions. Speaking on radio, Mr Glancey dismissed speculation that the company itself is a takeover target.