Coca-Cola HBC fizzes on solid up­date

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - Louis ash­worth

SHARES in Coca-Cola Hel­lenic

Bot­tling Com­pany popped higher af­ter an­a­lysts praised its first-half re­sults.

Sales held up de­cently dur­ing the first half, al­though a switch to at-home drink­ing hit its bot­tom line.

The FTSE 100 group – which pro­duces and dis­trib­utes Coca-Cola Com­pany drinks in Europe and parts of Africa – saw sales rev­enues slip 15.5pc to €2.83bn (£2.59bn) over the six-month pe­riod. Its profit be­fore tax fell from €260.8m to €167.2m.

It said prof­its were knocked by lower over­all vol­umes and a re­duc­tion in rev­enue due to a fall in out-of-home con­sump­tion. These pres­sures “were only par­tially off­set by lower in­put costs and op­er­at­ing ex­penses”, and ex­tra in­come from the group’s ac­qui­si­tion of Ser­bian con­fec­tionery brand Bambi, Coca-Cola HBC said.

Zo­ran Bog­danovic, chief ex­ec­u­tive, said: “Our strong per­for­mance on mar­ket share clearly demon­strates the power of our port­fo­lio of brands and ex­e­cu­tion in the mar­ket; we will cap­i­talise on this ad­van­tage now that we are see­ing early signs of re­cov­ery.”

An­a­lysts praised the re­sults, which sent Coca-Cola HBC shares up 165p to £21.98. Citi’s Si­mon Hales said the group had seen in­creased mo­men­tum in July, and noted it was ahead of sched­ule with its cost-cut­ting ef­forts.

The FTSE 100 rose a mod­er­ate 1.1pc to 6,104.7, with a sec­ond-day drag from drinks gi­ant Di­a­geo, which fell an­other 98p to £26.23 af­ter re­port­ing Covid-hit re­sults on Tues­day.

Min­ers per­formed strongly as data con­tin­ued to point to­wards a re­cov­ery in the global econ­omy – Evraz was the in­dex’s sec­ond-big­gest riser, up 26.7p to 321.9p. Other climbers in­cluded

Se­gro, which posted a surge in pre-tax prof­its for the six months to June as the pan­demic pushed more con­sumers to e-com­merce. The ware­hous­ing group’s shares rose 24.4p to 987.6p.

Le­gal & Gen­eral climbed 1pc fol­low­ing first-half re­sults. The in­surer, up 2.9p at 223p, con­firmed it will pay out a div­i­dend at the same rate as last year, af­ter re­sults that showed first-half prof­its hit by the pan­demic.

Royal Bank of Canada’s Gor­don Aitken said he sees the flat div­i­dend “as merely tem­po­rary and not an in­di­ca­tion that growth will slow”.

On the FTSE 250, in­surer Hast­ings jumped af­ter it agreed to a £1.7bn buy­out of­fer from Fin­land’s Sampo and South Africa’s Rand Mer­chant In­vest­ment, its top share­holder. Shares closed up 38p at 253p, roughly in line with the of­fer price.

Close be­hind was con­struc­tion com­pany Mor­gan Sin­dall, which soared 182p to £12.22 af­ter re­it­er­at­ing its guid­ance for 2020. The group suf­fered a 62pc drop in pre-tax profit to £13.6m dur­ing the first half as a re­sult of the virus.

Peel Hunt’s An­drew Nussey said the group’s per­for­mance had been “im­pres­sive” de­spite the drop.

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