* FY 2014 adj operating profit up 7.4 pct to 116.4 mln stg
* CFO sees Africa revenue up about 10 pct in 2015
* Raises final dividend to 5.23 p/shr
* Shares rise as much as 3.3 pct
(Adds CFO, analyst comment, share price)
By Aastha Agnihotri
July 29 PZ Cussons Plc, maker of
Imperial Leather soap, posted a higher full-year profit after
cost cuts scrubbed out the effect of a strong pound and periodic
disruptions to sales in Nigeria, its largest market.
Cussons' shares rose as much as 3.3 percent on Tuesday.
The British company expects revenue in Africa, flat last
year, to rise about 10 percent in the current financial year,
helped by the sale of cooking oil from its new joint venture
with Wilmar International Ltd in Nigeria.
Unrest in northeast Nigeria, scene of numerous attacks by
Islamist militants, has made distributors and customers there
more cautious, Cussons said in a statement. There are no signs
that this disruption will ease.
But Cussons' chief financial officer, Brandon Leigh, said
the company had been "growing quite strongly" in the south and
east of Africa's most populous country and biggest economy.
"Together with the new business areas that we have gone
into, that's been delivering growth," Leigh told Reuters.
Africa accounted for about 42 percent of Cussons' revenue in
financial 2014, which ended on May 31. Nigeria is by far its
biggest market, though it also sells in Ghana and Kenya.
The PZ Wilmar joint venture's palm oil refinery in Lagos is
running at close to capacity in its first full year of
operation, Cussons said. The joint venture sells cooking oil
under the brand names Mamador and Devon King's.
Cussons said full-year 2014 adjusted operating profit rose
7.4 percent to 116.4 million pounds ($197.2 million), citing
improving margins and the success of new brands as the main
reasons it was able to offset sterling's strength against
Cussons said Rafferty's Garden, the Australian baby-food
business purchased in 2013, had performed well and would
probably be launched outside Australia before the end of this
The company, which also sells Carex handwash, Charles
Worthington shampoos and St Tropez spray tan, declined to give
more details about its cost-cutting measures.
Alicia Forry, analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said Cussons had
improved its "buying power" by reducing procurement costs, as
well as cutting some jobs. The brokerage has a "buy" rating on
the stock, with a target price of 440 pence.
Cussons' shares were up 2.7 percent at 357.2 pence at 1235
GMT, outperforming the FTSE-250 index's 0.7 percent rise
The Manchester-based company raised its final dividend to
5.23 pence per share from 5.04 pence.
($1 = 0.5902 British Pounds)
(Editing by Robin Paxton)