May 14, 2018 / 5:48 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's Astral Foods H1 profit jumps more than five fold

(Adds details on poultry division, comments on Avian influenza, dividend)

May 14 (Reuters) - South Africa’s Astral Foods Ltd said on Monday its profit surged more than five fold for the first half ended March, helped by higher sales and prices in its poultry business.

Revenue at the company’s poultry division increased by 23 percent to 5.5 billion rand ($448.5 million), as an improvement in poultry supply and demand balance gave pricing support.

Astral, which detected the highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu on some of its farms in 2017, said earlier this month it did not suffer any losses due to the Avian Influenza or Listeriosis.

Listeria broke out in South Africa in January last year and has since infected almost 1,000 people, 180 of whom have died, the world’s worst recorded listeria outbreak.

The company, however, warned that avian influenza remained a threat and major concern for the poultry industry with the upcoming winter.

Astral, which also produces animal feeds, reported diluted headline earnings of 1,972 cents for the six months ended March, compared with 355 cents reported a year ago.

This was in line with an increase of between 1,958 cents and 1,994 cents per share that the firm flagged to the market.

Group revenue rose 15 percent to 6.67 billion rand.

Astral also declared an interim dividend 10 rand per share. ($1 = 12.2644 rand) (Reporting by Radhika Rukmangadhan in Bengaluru Editing by Darren Schuettler and Gopakumar Warrier)

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