AVI has more than 50 brands, which include Spitz, Five Roses, I&J and Yardley London. Picture: John Woodroof.
AVI has more than 50 brands, which include Spitz, Five Roses, I&J and Yardley London. Picture: John Woodroof.

AVI returns R926m special dividend to shareholders

By Sandile Mchunu Time of article published Mar 10, 2021

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DURBAN - AVI’S SHAREHOLDERS are set for a windfall after the consumer products company declared a special dividend of 280 cents a share, which equals R926 million, in the six months to the end of December.

AVI has more than 50 brands, which include Spitz, Five Roses, I&J and Yardley London.

The group declared an interim dividend of 160c, in line with last year’s dividend, despite the impact of Covid-19 on its operations.

Its overall cash generation remained healthy, and debt levels have dropped below its targeted gearing range.

However, cash generated by operations decreased 2.3 percent to R1.61 billion, as interest and taxation paid were both lower than last year, resulting in a 0.8 percent increase in cash available from operating activities to R1.21bn.

AVI also slashed its net debt by 32 percent to R1.12bn, down from R1.65bn compared with last year.

The group said the Covid-19 pandemic and the related lockdown regulations continued to have a material impact on their businesses in the first semester.

“Demand for our snacking and beverage brands normalised from the peaks during the hard lockdown period as consumers returned to more normal spending patterns, while sales of fragrance and beauty products improved. Our retail brands’ sales recovered as shoppers increasingly returned to malls and high streets through the period,” the group said.

Revenue declined 0.1 percent to R7.13bn, with growth in the food and beverage categories partially offset by the continued impact of Covid-19 on sales volumes in the fashion businesses and the Ciro out-of-home coffee solutions business.

Headline earnings per share (Heps) increased 1.2 percent to 297.3c, and basic earnings per share (Eps) declined 27.7 percent to 296.6c.

The Entyce Beverages segment reported a 0.7 percent decline in revenue to R1.95bn, while operating profit increased 2.9 percent to R473m.

The Snackworks segment reported a 5.4 percent increase in revenue to R2.36bn, and operating profit rose 3.6 percent to R506.7m.

I&J revenue increased 4.5 percent to R1.23bn, while operating profit decreased to R125.9m, due to losses in the abalone operation, together with lower royalties from Simplot following the disposal in November 2019.

The group said the country’s second wave of Covid-19 infections continued to have a material impact on Ciro’s sales, but it did not result in material disruption to its operations.

“The impact of Covid-19 on second-semester sales to date is limited, but the potential for it to disrupt our operations and consumer demand persists. The long-term economic damage wrought by the pandemic will exacerbate an already constrained trading environment, and many of our categories face the prospect of low, or even negative, growth rates in the absence of stimulus in the short term,” the group said.

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