September 11, 2018 / 7:37 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-Hilton Food profit tops expectations on Seachill acquisition

(Adds shares, analyst comments, details)

Sept 11 (Reuters) - British food packer Hilton Food Group on Tuesday reported a higher than expected 25.3 percent growth in half-year adjusted operating profit, boosted by last year’s acquisition of fish processor Seachill and higher sales in Ireland and Australia.

Shares of Hilton Food rose 2.8 percent to 966 pence in morning trading and were the top gainers on London’s mid-cap index.

Hilton Food, which has 10 production facilities, said sales volumes rose 12.7 percent to 181,255 tonnes for the 28 weeks ended July 15.

Adjusted operating profit rose to 23.6 million pounds ($30.8 million) from 18.8 million pounds a year earlier, while revenue rose 25 percent to 863.6 million pounds.

The company sees full-year results in line with its expectations and will explore more opportunities for expansion in both domestic and overseas markets, it said.

The company, founded in 1994 to supply Tesco UK, has been expanding through supply partnerships with supermarkets such as Tesco, Ahold, Albert Heijn and ICA Grupen.

It also acquired one of the largest chilled fish processors in the UK, Seachill, last year for about 81 million pounds, broadening its operations to seafood.

“Hilton has made significant steps forward with the contracts with Woolworths in Australia, Tesco in Poland and Sonae in Portugal. This provides visibility for the next five years and potential for >70% profit growth,” Peel Hunt analyst Charles Hall said.

“The company is set for a protracted period of profit growth given the number of projects due to come on-stream over the next five years,” he said. ($1 = 0.7662 pounds) (Reporting by Samantha Machado; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Amrutha Gayathri)

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