(ShareCast News) - AIM-listed cake and bread maker Finsbury Food posted a 6% jump in interim profit on Monday as revenue edged higher despite "market-wide headwinds".
In the 26 weeks to 30 December 2017, pre-tax profit rose to £8.4m from £7.9m in the same period a year ago, as revenue increased 0.7% to £157.8m, or 2.5% to £144.8m on a like-for-like basis.
Group operating profit was up 4.7% to £8.7m and the company declared an interim dividend of 1.1p per share, up 10% on 2016.
In the UK bakery division, revenue was up 1.1% to £140.5m while operating profit rose 7.4% to £7.3m. In the overseas business, which comprises Lightbody Europe, revenue fell 2.1% to £17.3m in the first half of 2017, while operating profit increased to £1.2m from £1m.
Finsbury said it had delivered these results against a backdrop of commodity and exchange rate driven inflationary headwinds and a consequentially challenging grocery environment.
During the year, Finsbury closed its loss-making bakery, while its new "state of the art" cake line is now fully operational. It also secured a new five-year £45m revolving credit facility.
Chief executive John Duffy said: "Our revenue and profit growth in the period illustrates the group's resilience to what has been a sustained period of market-wide headwinds. The investment into the business that we have implemented over this and previous years, alongside a focus on operational excellence has positioned us well and enabled us to continue to deliver robust results. This, alongside the strength of our balance sheet has underpinned our ability to increase our interim dividend.
"The headwinds will persist into the period ahead, but we are determined to deliver against our strategic objectives and continue to drive growth both organically and through acquisition. With our resilient and diversified group, by category, channel and geography, we are confident that we will continue to deliver steady progress in the period ahead."
AIM-quoted tile and paver manufacturer Michelmersh Brick returned a solid annual report card on Monday as a result of a strong showing by its most recent acquisition and an improved premium bricks market.
Carlton, which cost Michelmersh a total of £31.2m back in June 2017, was the main driving force behind the firm's 26% jump in revenue to £37.9m over the year ended 31 December, and the 42% higher EBITDA of £7.33m.
Although pre-tax profits fell to £3.34m due to costs associated with the Carlton plant's integration, Michelmersh added that prospects for the year to come were even stronger, having already built its forward order book to 60m units.
Brick manufactures across the UK have been facing shortages of stock as demand continues to exceed supply and cost inflation, according to Michelmersh, which the group - that was already capable of charging a premium due to its historical product innovation - said should help its margins moving forward.
Earnings per share increased 34% over the prior trading period to 5.9p.
As of 31 December, Michelmersh had net debt of £17.5m, a marked increase from the £4.7m reported twelve months earlier.
After the resignation of Eric Gadsden from the group's board in May 2017, Michelmersh kicked off a recruitment process aimed at appointing a further non-executive director, which culminated in Stephen Bellamy's addition post-period end in February 2018.
Martin Warner, chairman of Michelmershsaid, "The group's position has been significantly strengthened in 2017 with the addition of the Carlton plant. Our geography, product range, scale and market presence have all been enhanced as a result and there is further scope to benefit from this acquisition as the management teams work together to maximise the performance of the group."
"The UK construction industry remains stable with a level of activity that keeps UK brick manufacturing operating at capacity with limited options for expansion. The group's order book is strong and 2018 promises to be busy," he concluded.
Michelmersh upped its dividend for the trading year by 7.5% to 2.15p.