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A jump in orders and the acquisition of rival HungryHouse helped UK takeaway marketplace Just Eat (JE) grow revenues by 43% to almost £780m last year and move back into pre-tax profit.

Total revenues in 2018 increased 43% to £779.5m as 26 million active customers driving strong order growth of 28% to 221 million.

Order frequency per customer improving by 5% to 8.4 times per annum compared to last year.

Its marketplace business achieved orders of 186.5 million (up from 161.6 million last year) and revenue of £569.6m compared to £473.1m at constant currency in 2017.

In the UK, it invested £21 million in the roll-out of delivery and now work with over 2,000 Restaurant Partners 197 delivery zones covering 35% of the addressable population.

One fifth of the UK adult population used Just Eat during the year as it consolidated our number one position through the integration of HungryHouse. Active UK customers increased 16% to 12.2 million generating 122.8 million orders, up 17% from 2017, despite the impact of exceptionally hot weather in July and August.

Overall underlying EBITDA rose 6% to £173.9m after it invested £51m in strategic initiatives, including expansion in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The group made a pre-tax profit of £101.7m, up from a pre-tax loss of £76m in 2017.

Looking forward, the group said it expects to grow underlying EBITDA margins again next year, aided by its Canadian businesses, SkipTheDishes, reporting its first underlying profit.

Just Eat expects to report full year 2019 revenue in the range of £1bn-£1.1bn and underlying EBITDA in the range of £185m-£205m, excluding Brazil and Mexico which will post an underlying EBITDA loss of £80m-£100m as it invests in growth.

Interim CEO Peter Duffy commented: “Just Eat’s continued strong growth and strategic investments saw more than four million new customers join us in 2018. We are creating a leading hybrid offering founded on our unrivalled marketplace, combined with the targeted roll-out of delivery.

“This gives our growing customer base access to the greatest choice of restaurants and drives even more orders to our Restaurant Partners, ultimately strengthening the network effects of our business. We have a clear plan for the year ahead as our highly experienced team works hard to accelerate the execution of our strategy and we remain focused on long-term returns for shareholders.”

Chairman Mike Evans added: “The Board is pleased to see that the strategy set out last year is working and already delivering strong results. Our experienced management team, led by Peter Duffy, is working to accelerate the implementation of that strategy.

“Our leading hybrid marketplace gives Just Eat a real competitive advantage and we are pleased with the speed at which this is now being rolled out. The board’s search to identify Just Eat’s next permanent CEO is underway and we will provide a further update when a decision has been taken.”

Morning update

Agri-services group Origin Enterprises (OGN) has posted a big jump in first half sales and profits due to M&A, increased demand and fertiliser prices.

Group revenues in the six months to 31 January jumped 19.5% to €701.6m, driven by increased agronomy services revenue and crop input volumes, increased fertiliser prices and its acquisition of Fortgreen in Latin America

Underlying growth in agronomy services and crop input volumes, excluding crop marketing, was 9.3% in the period compared to last year.

Operating profit from its agri-services business was €9.1m compared to a profit of €2.3m in the first half of last year. On an underlying basis, at constant currency, the increase year-on-year was €1m.

Acquisitions contributed €5.8m to operating profit, primarily due to a strong first-time contribution from its Latin American division.

Net debt rose from €171.4m to €238.8m following its M&A activity and an increased investment in working capital.

Origin CEO Tom O’Mahony said: ” The performance reflects the benefit of favourable early season demand for agronomy services and crop inputs, together with a strong first-time contribution from our Latin American segment. Our investment in Latin America underlines the Group’s ambition to pursue meaningful geographical diversification and seasonality balance in attractive growth markets.

“Looking ahead, the autumn and winter cropping profile established to date provides a solid foundation for the seasonally more important second half.”

On the markets this morning, the FTSE 100 has edged up 0.1% to 7,189.5pts.

Just Eat has slipped 2.7% to 758.8p so far this morning, while Origin Enterprises is down 4.9% at €5.23.

Early risers include the tobacco companies, with British American Tobacco (BATS) up 5.5% to 3,059p and Imperial Brands (IMB) up 2.7% to 2,646p.

Other risers include Devro (DVO), up 2.6% to 187.7p, C&C Group (CCR), up 1.6% to €3.15 and Greencore (GNC), up 1.5% to 199.9p.

Fallers include McBride (MCB), down 3.9% to 98p, Glanbia (GLB), down 2% to €18.38 and Stock Spirits (STCK), down 1.3% to 236p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 rose a further 0.7% to 7,183.4pts yesterday to continue the market’s solid start to the week.

After the release of the monthly Kantar Worldpanel and Nielsen market share figures Tesco (TSCO) rose 1.2% to 231.9p as it topped the growth rates across the big four supermarkets.

Morrisons (MRW) was up 0.2% to 230p as it remained in growth in the figures, but Sainsbury’s fell 1.2% to 231p after it was named as the only UK supermarket to post an annual decline in sales.

Elsewhere, Dairy Crest (DCG) rose 2.7% to 643p as it heads towards new Canadian ownership. Unilever (ULVR) rose 1.8% to 4,072.5p, PZ Cussons (PZC) was up 1.7% to 198p, Reckitt Benckiser (RB) rose 1.6% to 5,991p and Greencore (GNC) was up 1.2% to 197.1p.

Other risers included McColl’s (MCLS), which continued its recovery after rising back up 7.6% to 71.2p yesterday. Stock Spirits (STCK) was up 3% to 239p and Majestic Wine (WINE) rose 2.2% to 293p.

Marks & Spencer was the sector’s most notable faller, dropping 2.2% to 276.8p to continue its volatile trading after agreeing last week’s joint venture with Ocado.

Other fallers included Bakkavor (BAKK), down 1.5% to 142.8p, McBride (MCB), down 4.2% to 102p and Finsbury Food Group (FIF), down 3.3% to 73.5p.