MONDI’s first-half earnings climbed as much as 44 percent after it took a lower charge related to restructuring, the biggest local packaging and paper company said yesterday. Basic earnings a share rose to between 46 euro cents (R6.50) and 51c in the six months to June from 35.3c a year earlier, the company said. Mondi said it had booked a net special item charge of e16 million for the period, relating to restructuring of its coatings business, compared with e68m a year earlier. Underlying earnings a share, a measure that excludes special items, would be between 49c and 54c compared with 49.4c a year earlier. “This is a reassuring update,” Justin Jordan, an analyst at Jefferies Group, said yesterday. “Mondi is benefiting from its strategic capital investments with improving pricing outlook.” Mondi is expanding in new markets to reduce its reliance on stagnant economies and gain from a shift to packaging products. Mondi closed 1.57 percent up at R194 yesterday. The shares are up 8 percent this year. – Bloomberg