(Recasts with share price fall, forecast of earnings growth slowing)
DUBLIN, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Irish nutrition supplement and ingredient firm Glanbia said its earnings growth would slow in the coming year on weak dairy prices and increased investment and said dollar weakness was set to hit euro-denominated earnings.
Shares in the firm, a leading supplier of “performance nutrition” protein supplements for body builders, were down 4.8 percent at 0900 GMT despite plans to pay out more in dividends.
The firm’s earnings per share rose 10.2 percent in 2017, on a constant currency basis, which strips out currency volatility. This will slow to between 5 and 8 percent in 2018, it said.
Weak dairy prices and investments affect performance in the first half of 2018, the firm said in a statement.
The company will focus on volume driven growth and invest in new acquisitions in 2018 to “secure the firm for the longer term,” Finance Director Mark Garvey told Reuters in an interview.
The performance nutrition market is likely to experience pricing and promotion pressure due to falling prices of whey, a key ingredient in the supplements, he added.
If the euro remains at it current high level against the dollar, the firm, which generates over 80 percent of its earnings in U.S. dollars, faces a translational headwind of around 8 percent, it said.
The firm on Wednesday also announced plans to “materially increase” its dividend policy with a target of paying between 25 and 35 percent of adjusted earnings per share in what Garvey described as a sign of the strength of its balance sheet.
The company plans to pay out 22 cents per share for 2017, an increase of 65 percent on the previous year, the company said in a statement. (Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Jason Neely/Keith Weir)