LONDON (Reuters) – Primark owner Associated British Foods <ABF.L> maintained its full-year earnings guidance on Thursday, reporting revenue growth in the Christmas quarter in all of its businesses apart from sugar.
The group, which also has major grocery, agriculture and ingredients divisions, said revenue from continuing operations for the 16 weeks to Jan. 5 was 2 percent ahead of the same period last year at constant currency.
It said it still expected adjusted operating profit and adjusted earnings per share for its 2018-19 financial year to be in line with the 1.40 billion pounds ($1.81 billion) and 134.9 pence made in 2017-18.
AB Foods said Primark, which accounts for about half of the group’s revenue and profit, increased its total sales by 4 percent at constant currency, though like-for-like sales saw “a modest decline”. Operating margin in the period increased.
Primark’s total sales in the UK rose 1 percent – exceeding internal expectations in a market which declined year-on-year. Trading was described as strong in France, Belgium, Italy and the United States but soft “in a difficult German market.”
AB Sugar’s revenue from continuing operations was 12 percent behind last year. The group cautioned last year that profit in its sugar business would be significantly lower this year reflecting lower EU sugar prices for contracts negotiated at the end of the last financial year.
It noted “early signs of recovery” in EU sugar prices.
Shares in AB Foods, down 25 percent over the last year, closed Wednesday at 2,178 pence, valuing the business at 17.2 billion pounds.
(Reporting by James Davey, Editing by Paul Sandle)