Recovery in Britain, Ireland helps cider maker C&C

Tue May 20, 2014 3:42am EDT

* Operating profit up 11 pct, revenues rise 30 pct

* Proposes 14 pct rise in dividend

* Shares rise 6 pct

DUBLIN, May 20 (Reuters) - Improving economies in Britain and Ireland helped cider maker C&C post a sharp rise in profit and revenue for the year ended February, it said on Tuesday.

Shares in the maker of Magners and Bulmers rose some 6 percent after it reported an 11 percent increase in operating profit to 127 million euros ($174 million), while revenues were up 30 percent to 620 million euros.

"Macro conditions in Ireland and the UK are gradually improving and our businesses are well positioned to benefit from improved consumer sentiment in these key markets," said Chief Executive Stephen Glancey.

Like many big Irish firms, C&C responded to the crisis that pushed the country into an EU/IMF bailout by expanding abroad. After adding Scottish beer Tennent's and U.S. cider Woodchuck to its portfolio, it now makes one third of its profit in Ireland compared with 71 percent in 2006.

C&C, which bought Ireland's leading beverage distributor Gleeson Group in 2012, said its performance was particularly strong in Ireland and Scotland.

It proposed a dividend of 0.1 euros a share, 14 percent higher than the previous year, and targeted mid-single digit operating profit growth for the current financial year.

"C&C delivered a robust full-year performance across key financial metrics as Scotland and the Republic of Ireland underpin profitability," said Cathal Kenny of Davy Research.

"Resilient core markets and strong cash generation will sustain a progressive dividend policy."

($1 = 0.7289 Euros) (Reporting by Sam Cage; Editing by Mark Potter)