UPDATE 1-Cranswick profit up 21 percent; shares rise

Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:39am EST

* H1 pretax profit 22.5 mln stg vs 18.5 mln stg last year

* Revenue up 6 pct at 418.6 mln stg

* Raises interim dividend to 9.4 pence from 9 pence

* Shares up 7 pct

By Karen Rebelo

Nov 26 (Reuters) - British pork processor Cranswick Plc reported a 21 percent rise in first-half profit as it passed on higher pig prices to its customers, sending its shares up 7 percent.

The company last month warned that pig prices in the United Kingdom were at a three-year high and were expected to continue rising, driven by high livestock feed prices and implementation of animal welfare norms in Europe.

"The fact that Cranswick has successfully managed to secure price increases from the retailers underpinning our (full-year earnings) forecasts should be well received," Panmure Gordon analyst Damian McNeela said in a note.

Shares in the company, whose supermarket customers include J Sainsbury and Tesco Plc, were up 7.58 percent at 795 pence on the London Stock Exchange at 0846 GMT.

Cranswick's Finance Director Mark Bottomley told Reuters on Monday he did not expect pig prices to rise sharply during the run-up to Christmas.

"Costs are stabilising now, they are round about just a touch over 160 pence per kilo," Bottomley said.

"We have seen in the last couple of weeks the increases haven't been so high," he added.

Cranswick processes and supplies fresh pork, sausage, bacon, cooked meats, charcuterie, pastry products and sandwiches to food retailers.

April-September pretax profit rose 21 percent to 22.5 million pounds ($36 million). Revenue increased 6 percent, with underlying revenue up 5 percent.

Cranswick, which supplies to brands such as Weight Watchers and celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's food products range, said sausage sales increased 15 percent during the period despite unusually soggy weather in the UK.

The Hull-based company has so far benefited from cost-conscious Britons opting for pork as cheaper alternative to beef, lamb and poultry.