Astral Foods expected headline earnings per share (Heps) for the six months to March to be at least 215 percent higher than a year ago because of improved trading conditions, the poultry producer said yesterday. The increase to March also came off a low profit base, it said. Astral reported that Heps fell 82 percent to 94c at the half-way stage last year. Trading conditions were tough early last year, with Astral affected by higher feed input costs and lower selling prices as it competed against increasing levels of chicken imports. Astral expected its interim results to be published on May 19. Its shares closed unchanged at R83 yesterday, off the day’s high of R83.81. – Staff reporter