profit results released today

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    SPC Ardmona Limited (SPC) today confirmed the benefits of the merger between SPC and Ardmona after it posted a 6.5% increase in profit after tax of $11.6 million for its first half ended 30 June 2003. As a result, the Australian food company declared an increase in its interim dividend from 2.5c to 3c per share.

    "Revenue for the half year to 30 June 2003 increased to $242.8 million, up 16.2% on the previous half year and led to a 23.8% improvement in earnings before tax, up from $12.6 million to $15.6 million," highlighted SPC Ardmona in a statement to the ASX.

    SPC Ardmona said its sales growth was derived from an increase in both domestic and export sales.

    "Within Australia, the fruit and tomato categories were the main growth drivers with domestic sales growing by 10% to $158.2 million."

    Turning to its export markets, SPC Ardmona reported first half sales of $74.8 million, up 24% on 2002.

    "The growth was driven by volume increases from the recently expanded Thailand facility and some opportunistic tomato sales in the UK," commented SPC.

    SPC Ardmona advised it had reached agreement to sell both its shareholding in Pak Technologies and the Ardmona Factory Sales building in Mooroopna. Settlement of both transactions is expected by the end of 2003 and the company predicts it will free up about $6.5 million in funds.

    "We have decided to invest some of the profits from these divestments in the long term future of our supply base", Mr Garrard explained.

    "We will be providing financial subsidiaries totaling some $1.5 million to grower suppliers to help with the cost of additional pear, apricot, and plum plantings and to assist growers with a one off drought subsidiary."

    The company forecasts the profit from the divestments offset by the subsidiary to suppliers will still result in an additional after tax profit of about $1.5 million in the second half.

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