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Astral shares up despite expected fall in earnings

Astral Foods’ share price leapt by more than 5 percent on the JSE yesterday morning despite the group flagging a possible 45 percent decline in earnings for the six months to the end of March. Photo: Supplied

Astral Foods’ share price leapt by more than 5 percent on the JSE yesterday morning despite the group flagging a possible 45 percent decline in earnings for the six months to the end of March. Photo: Supplied

Published Mar 17, 2021

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DURBAN - ASTRAL Foods’ share price leapt by more than 5 percent on the JSE yesterday morning despite the group flagging a possible 45 percent decline in earnings for the six months to the end of March.

The shares closed 1.61 percent higher at R134.95 on the JSE yesterday.

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South Africa’s leading integrated poultry producer said in a trading update yesterday that its headline earnings per share (Eps) and headline earnings per share (Heps) for the period under review were expected to be down, but by not more than 45 percent compared with last year’s earnings.

Astral reported Heps and Eps of 951 cents a share in last year’s half-year results, which were not impacted by the outbreak of Covid-19.

In the expected results, the group said Eps and Heps would be at least 523c for the six months to the end of March 2021.

Astral said it would release a further trading statement once it had a reasonable certainty about the range of the decrease in its earnings.

“The trading results for the interim period are compared to results in respect of the comparative previous interim period for the six months to end-March 2020, which was not affected by the impact of Covid-19 at the time. The impact of the Covid-19 related lockdown on the economy, and constrained consumer spending has remained evident through the interim period,” the group said.

Its poultry operations had not been able to recover significant increases in feed costs in the selling price of poultry

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products during this reporting period.

Although last year’s numbers were not negatively impacted by the Covid19 outbreak, the group incurred additional costs that were associated with load shedding, the legislated national minimum wage and on-going water supply costs relating to the Standerton contingency measures.

Astral operates three divisions:

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feeds, poultry and other Africa.

Astral’s earnings last year were boosted by the performance of its poultry divisions, which increased its operating profit 11.5 percent to R287 million, even though the group said total poultry imports remained high, with average monthly total poultry imports for the period equalling about 30 percent of local consumption,

at an average of 42 907 tons a month.

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The feeds division’s operating profit was marginally up by 1.7 percent, while the other Africa division’s operating profit increased to R16m from R7m a year earlier. Group operating profit was up 8.5 percent to R546m.

Astral expects to release its halfyear results on May 17.

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