Despite the challenging economic climate, Irish food ingredients, flavours and dairy group Kerry expects a good outcome for the full year.
Speaking at the group's Annual General Meeting on Wednesday, Hugh Friel, managing director of Kerry, said that, notwithstanding currency fluctuations, the prospects for the year are good, helped by sales that are substantially in the currency of the country of origin with balances remaining after netting hedged using foreign exchange spot and forward contracts.
At the same time Friel also confirmed the successful placement of US$650 million Senior Notes with US institutional investors. The average maturity of the new debt raised is over ten years. Friel stated that the placement, which lengthens the group's debt maturity profile, takes advantage of keen investor appetite for investment grade corporate issues.Proceeds have been used to repay existing group debt.
In the financial year ended 31 December 2002, total turnover for Kerry grew by 25 per cent to €3.8 billion. Group operating profit before goodwill and exceptionals increased by 17 per cent to €305 million and adjusted earnings per share increased by 15.8 per cent to 101.8 cent. Approximately 37 per cent of group turnover originated in Ireland, 34 per cent in the rest of Europe, 25 per cent in the Americas and 4 per cent in Asia Pacific.
But a few months into 2003 Kerry has already made acquisitions amounting to US$135 million. US citrus flavours and ingredients company SunPure, Guernsey Bel, an ingredients and inclusionstechnology firm and Pacific Seasonings, a manufacturer of seasonings and spices are among its recent buys.
The Kerry Group has grown organically