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Cranswick expects to ride out pig trouble in China as emerging chicken player

Following February’s warning about tough market conditions in the new financial year, recent trading was said to have been "as anticipated"

Pig prices in China are "likely to rise by 50-100%" in the second half, analysts reckon

Sausage and sandwich supplier Cranswick plc (LON:CWK) served up profits in line with expectations and said market conditions have remained stable since it warned on profits for its new trading year.

The FTSE 250 group, which supplies sausages, cooked meats and sandwiches to supermarkets, caterers and other food producers, reported revenue down 0.2% to £1.4bn for the year to 31 March as strong growth in the smaller poultry business was not enough to counterbalance thinner pork volumes due to the African Swine Fever (ASF) epidemic in China.

READ: Sausage maker Cranswick goes pop as it warns margins will fall next year

Adjusted profit before tax trotted up 2% to £92mln, exactly in line with analyst forecasts, with adjusted earnings per share 2% higher at 144.3p and the full year dividend hiked 4.1% to 55.9p.

Following February’s warning about tough market conditions in the new financial year, trading in the first seven weeks was said to have been "as anticipated", with expectations for the year unchanged.

Management said the £75mln investment in its new poultry facility at Eye in Suffolk would help drive future growth in what it was was an “attractive and expanding protein category”, more than doubling the number of birds it can "process" to 1.2mln per week.

Broker Peel Hunt noted that, with China's herd having shrunk by almost a third due to the rapid spread of ASF, pig prices there have risen sharply in recent weeks and are "likely to rise by 50-100%" in the second half, which will be very helpful to Cranswick but will need to be balanced against the knock-on effect on UK and European costs.

Cranswick shares were up 1% to 2,886.79p by lunchtime on Tuesday.

Quick facts: Cranswick plc

Price: 3340 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £1.74 billion

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