Morning business news - February 25

Tuesday 25 February 2014 10.50
Morning business news with Brian Finn
Morning business news with Brian Finn

International food and ingredients group Kerry has reported revenue of €5.8 billion for the 2013 financial year. A trading profit of €611m for the year was up over 9%.

Stan McCarthy, Kerry Group's chief executive, said the ingredients and flavours division, which now makes up 80% of the group's revenue, performed exceptionally well with trading profit up 10%. "The consumer foods business was a little flat, but we improved the operating margin in that business,' he said.

Mr McCarthy said the business saw a strong fourth quarter with something of a bounce back in Europe, but some of the gains were offset by currency issues in emerging markets. He said the problems in emerging markets were macro in nature affecting the local currencies but he reaffirmed the group's commitment to the region. "It accounts for €1 billion of our revenue. It's a very significant market," he stated.

Kerry's overall profit of €84m was down significantly on the €260m reported in 2012, but Mr McCarthy said that a number of expenditure items accounted for that. "There were a number of expenses in relation to a reorganisation programme that we've been carrying out for two years on integration of acquisitions and the relocation of our global technology centre to Naas. We also saw the disposal of some businesses." He said the new Naas facility was already up and running, albeit in temporary accommodation, with the move to the new building scheduled for January next.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Builders materials group CRH has reported full year revenue of €18 billion which was broadly flat on the previous year's figure. Revenue for the second half, however, was up 2% following a 6% decline in the first half mainly due to bad weather in the Americas and Europe. Earnings before interest, depreciation and other measures was down 6% at €1.475 billion. The company's new chief executive, Albert Manifold, says he believes that 2013 was the trough year in terms of profits and expects 2014 to be a year of profit growth.

*** The European Commission publishes its winter economic forecast today in which is expected to change its inflation outlook for 2014 from the 1.5% level previously forecast. Preliminary inflation figures for February, due out on Friday, are expected to show inflation still running at below 1%, with some estimates of 0.6%. That will undoubtedly provoke speculation about whether Mario Draghi will opt to cut rates again when the ECB governing council meets on Thursday week.

*** Members of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee in the European Parliament have voted in favour of a report recommending that the Eurogroup should honour its commitment to Ireland to deal with the bank debt burden. An EU report evaluating the Troika's work "regrets that the debt burden had not been shared among all who acted irresponsibly". The vote will undoubtedly re-ignite the debate around retrospectively getting back some of the money the Irish taxpayer pumped into the banks.

*** The professional networking service LinkedIn has launched a test version of its Chinese language site. The firm said the move was aimed at offering a more localised service to its users in China. Social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter remain blocked in China; LinkedIn is hoping to boost growth in the market. China is the world's largest internet market with more than 500 million internet users.

*** One of the biggest online Bitcoin exchanges, Mount Gox, has vanished from the internet amid claims that the exchange is insolvent. Its website has been wiped clean, as has its official Twitter feed. A screen shot posted online indicates that trading has been halted. Two weeks ago, the Tokyo based exchange suspended customer withdrawals. Security firm Trustwave reported yesterday that thousands of computers had been infected with a virus to steal bitcoins.