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Johannesburg - Bidvest, a diversified South African company specialising in food manufacturing and packaging, rose to a 22-year high ahead of an expected earnings report for the half year through December.

The stock gained as much as 3.1 percent, the biggest intraday gain in almost two months, and traded 2.2 percent higher at 241.6 rand by 1:20 p.m., in Johannesburg.

The shares are at their highest since at least August 1990, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Bidvest said on February 19 it sees headline earnings per share excluding a 399 million rand ($45 million) one-time profit to be between 17 percent and 19 percent higher for the six months through December, compared with the same period in 2011.

It expects to report the official figures on or about March 4.

“Their trading statement has been a big actor in the recent week,” said Mark Hodgson, an analyst at Cape Town-based Avior Research Pty Ltd., in a phone interview.

“There is a lot of feel good factor.”

Bidvest shares have gained 12 percent this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, compared with a 2 percent rise in the 165-member FTSE/JSE Africa All-Share index.

“I am pretty confident that their earnings for the second half will be at a slower pace,” Hodgson said.

“It depends on the South African economy. About 60 percent of their earnings are from the country.”

South African GDP probably grew at an annualised rate of 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to a median estimate of 20 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The continent’s biggest economy is expected to expand 2.5 percent this year, down from a 3 percent estimate in Finance Minister’s Pravin Gordhan’s October 25 mid-term budget.

Bidvest stock is trading at a relative strength index above 70 for a fifth straight day.

A reading above 70 usually means that the stock is overbought.

“It’s certainly going to consolidate with investors reassessing,” Hodgson said. - Bloomberg News