March 5, 2019 / 6:00 AM / 9 months ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa's Clover posts 5 pct rise in H1 profit

(Adds details, dividend announcement)

JOHANNESBURG, March 5 (Reuters) - South African dairy company Clover Industries Ltd said on Tuesday its first-half profit rose 5 percent, boosted by an increase in sales volume and an uptick in prices of some of its products.

Clover Industries, which produces products such as yoghurt and olive oil, said headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2018 rose to 123.5 cents from 117.6 cents a year earlier.

HEPS is the main profit gauge in South Africa which strips out certain one-off items.

Clover, which saw shares soar last month after a consortium of companies made a $358.99 million buyout offer, said revenue rose 4.1 percent to 4.39 billion rand ($309 million), compared to the year-ago period.

“It is exciting to see the interest in Clover as this is testament to what we have achieved to reposition the business and enhance its value. For us it

is business as usual to ensure that we continue to deliver against our strategy,” Clover Chief Executive Johann Vorster said in a statement.

The company, which spun off its raw milk business last year, has focused on developing higher margin, value-added branded food and beverages to move away from lower-margin commoditised dairy products.

The firm said it expects the coming year to remain challenging, amid constrained consumer spending.

“We are optimistic that ongoing delivery against our strategy will ensure that our operations are sustainable despite the current stagnation in the economy and that the business, with its healthy balance sheet and cash-flows, will be well positioned to take advantage of an economic upswing,” said Vorster.

The firm declared an interim dividend of 27.89 cents per share compared with 26.56 cents per share in the same period a year ago. ($1 = 14.2143 rand) (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Rashmi Aich)

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