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Kerry Group (KYGA) has delivered a “solid” first half, with volume growth of 3.2% during the period while sales edged up 0.3% to €3bn.

Kerry said this good volume growth, driven by strong performance in the US and Asia and lower growth in emerging markets, was offset by significant currency movements and lower pricing relative to the first half.

Net pricing was 2.2% lower against a background of 4% lower raw material costs. Currency headwinds led to an adverse 3.7% translation impact on revenues.

A focus on business quality and operational efficiencies helped group trading profit increase by 7.4% to €322m. Trading profit margin increased by 70 basis points to 10.6%.

Kerry said: “Global market conditions remain challenging with slower economic growth, currency volatility and continuing geopolitical instability in particular in many regional developing markets.

“The Irish and UK consumer foods’ landscape remains highly competitive as retailers address the changing marketplace and economic uncertainty in the UK market. Kerry Foods’ repositioned portfolio continues to perform well benefiting from convenience, food-to-go and snacking trends.”

Its UK and Ireland consumer foods division saw business volumes increase by 2.3%, while pricing decreased by 2.1%. Reported revenue at €697m reduced by 7%, primarily attributable to the disposal of non-core businesses net of acquisitions in 2015 and adverse currency movements.

Kerry said it continued to outperform market growth rates in the chilled meals category and also performed satisfactorily in the frozen sector where its ‘Men’s Health’ Kitchen range of premium meals were launched.

The private label spreads sector remains highly competitive, while in Ireland Dairygold spreads maintained brand positioning. ‘Cheestrings’ maintained strong market development momentum in Europe after launching in Spain and Portugal.

Kerry Group Chief Executive Stan McCarthy added: “Despite the challenging market landscape we delivered a solid financial performance in the first half of 2016, with continued margin expansion, strong cash generation and a 7.5% increase in adjusted earnings per share.

“While we are confident of delivering an underlying trading performance in the full year as previously guided; taking into account the increased currency headwinds of 5% at current exchange rates, growth in adjusted earnings per share in 2016 is expected to be towards the middle to lower end of the 6% to 10% range of 320 to 332 cent per share”.

Kerry shares have slipped 0.6% to €76.74 in early trading so far today.

Morning update

African meant producer Zambeef (ZAM) has raised $65m through investment from CDC Group to refinance existing debt and settle financial obligations relating it is acquisition of RCL Foods.

Zambeef has issued 52.6m new ordinary shares and 100m convertible preference shares to CDC to raise the $65m. CDC is the UK’s development finance institution. It invests in promising businesses in Africa and South Asia with aim of supporting economic development to create jobs.

Zambeef said: “In CDC, Zambeef has gained a constructive and supportive strategic shareholder, which will have a shareholding of approximately 17.5 per cent in Zambeef’s ordinary shares and voting rights over approximately 34.85 per cent of the company’s enlarged share capital.”

UK economy watchers will have their eye fixed on the Bank of England’s monthly Monitory Policy Committee meeting today which is widely expected to cut interest rates from 0.5% to 0.25% to ward off growing worries over UK economic prospects. A cut would be the first movement from 0.5% since 2009.

This afternoon brings trading updates from Kraft Heinz (KHC) and Kellogg’s (K).

The FTSE 100 is down another 0.2% to 6,619.7pts this morning.

Risers include Applegreen (APGN), up 2.9% to 360p, Hilton Food Group (HFG), up 1.6% to 583.4p and Fyffes (FFY), up 1.4% to 122.7p.

Early fallers include Real Good Food (RGD), down 3.1% to 31p, Diageo (DGE), down 1.3% to 2,101p and PureCircle (PURE), down 1.2% to 330.5p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 was down 0.2% to 6,634.4pts yesterday – holding up despite more gloomy economic data, this time from the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers’ index, suggesting the UK is facing an economic slowdown.

Shares in Science In Sport (SIS) shook off any wider economic worries, surging 22.7% during the day to 67.5p after news broke that it has bagged a sponsorship deal with the USA’s national cycling body US Cycling.

Real Good Food (RGF) was up 6.7% to 32p following its encouraging results earlier this week, while Premier Foods (PFD) surged 6.4% higher back to 50p and Zambeef was 4.9% higher at 8p ahead of the CDC investment.

Other strong risers included Associated British Foods (ABF), up 4.1% to 2,830 after Next’s post-Brexit financial update wasn’t as bad as feared and PZ Cussons (PZC), up 3% to 342.1p.

Fallers included British American Tobacco (BATS), down 2.4% to 4,703, Imperial Brands (IMB) down 2.3% to 3,954.5p, Unilever (ULVR), down 1.5% to 3,478p and Greggs (GRG), down 1.4% to 1,034p.