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Penneys Owner AB Foods First-Half Profits Held Back By Sugar

Penneys and Primark owner Associated British Foods reported a 1% fall in first-half profit, with a resilient performance at its Primark fashion business offset by a previously flagged dip in the performance of its sugar business.

In January, AB Foods had warned that revenue and profit from sugar would fall more than previously forecast in 2017-18 because of lower prices across the European Union.

For the six months to March 3 2018 the group, which also owns major grocery, ingredients and agriculture businesses, made adjusted operating profit of £648 million (€750.6 million).

That compares with company guidance of a "flat" outcome and £652 million made in the first half of its 2016-17 year.

Group revenue rose 2% to £7.42 billion.

Sugar Reduction

On a constant currency basis sales and profit growth was achieved in all of the divisions, other than sugar, where the reduction was as expected.

The group maintained its full-year outlook, forecasting "progress" in both adjusted operating profit and adjusted earnings per share.

It forecast a second-half acceleration in profit growth at Primark, due to margin improvement, and continued profit growth from the other non-sugar businesses.

"These should more than offset the decline in profit at AB Sugar in the balance of the year," said Chairman Michael McLintock.

Shares in the group, down 23% over the last six months, closed Monday at 2,583 pence, valuing the business at £20.3 billion.

The group is majority-owned by the family of Chief Executive George Weston.

News by Reuters, edited by Checkout. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.

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