UPDATE 2-Nutreco hunts deals as it keeps 2011 outlook

Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:12am EDT

* Q3 sales 1.535 bln euros, vs 1.53 bln in poll

* Reiterates 2011 EBITA forecast of 230 mln euros

* Expects excellent H2 results for fish feed

* Shares down 0.7 percent

By Aaron Gray-Block

AMSTERDAM, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Dutch food group Nutreco is sticking to its full-year forecasts after successfully passing on higher costs in the third quarter and said it was on the lookout for acquisitions.

Nutreco, which produces animal and fish feed and is a major poultry processor, said 11.7 percent of its 14.6 percent rise in third-quarter sales was due to higher selling prices as it passed on rising costs to farmers for crops such as grain, corn and soya bean. It said it was also benefiting from strong sales at its fish feed business.

"In the second half year we expect excellent results in fish feed and the total of our other activities to be in line with last year or slightly higher," Nutreco said on Thursday.

Nutreco, which competes with Norvite Animal Nutrition Company, Cargill , Altech and DSM , in August missed out on buying rival Provimi, which was acquired by Cargill, and is now on the lookout for smaller bolt-on deals.

The company said it had a strong balance sheet and aimed to expand its fish feed business into new regions and make acquisitions for its feed additives activities.

It will provide a strategy update on Nov. 16.

KBC Securities analysts said Nutreco was well positioned to pursue external growth, both in fish feed and in markets in China, Russia and Brazil.

The company reiterated that it expected full-year earnings before interest, tax and amortisation (EBITA) to be around 230 million euros, up about 3 percent from 2010.

"Nutreco's third-quarter sales were somewhat below our forecast, but, more importantly, the company maintained its full-year guidance," SNS Securities analysts said.

Nutreco shares were down 0.7 percent at 48.22 euros at 0841 GMT, in line with a 0.7 percent decline in the Amsterdam midcap index .

It reported a 14.6 percent rise in third-quarter sales to 1.535 billion euros, bringing its nine-month tally to 4.108 billion.

Analysts in a poll commissioned by Reuters had forecast on average third-quarter sales of 1.53 billion euros.

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