May 23, 2017 / 1:02 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Meat supplier Cranswick to boost investments amid rising input costs

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May 23 (Reuters) - British pork and poultry supplier Cranswick Plc said it expects to spend 50 percent more this year as it boosts investments in its meat processing plants to counter a surge in input prices.

Cranswick, which processes and supplies fresh pork, premium bacon and sausages, as well as cooked meats, posted a 17.2 percent increase in full-year profit on Tuesday as exports jumped.

The company expects to spend up to 70 million pounds ($90 million) in its fiscal year ending March 2018, Chief Executive Adam Couch told Reuters. That represents a near 49 percent jump from a year earlier.

Couch also said the company continued to eye acquisition opportunities.

Cranswick, founded by Yorkshire pig farmers in the 1970s to make pig feed, bolstered its chicken business with two acquisitions over the past three years.

The company bought cooked-chicken specialist Benson Park in October 2014 and added Crown Chicken to its basket in April last year.

The company's poultry business, which represents 11 percent of the group's total revenue, rose 17.7 percent on a like-for-like basis in the year ended March 31.

Cranswick's shares were up about 2 percent at 2,869 pence by 11:33 GMT on the London Stock Exchange.

The company, which has a strong presence in the pork export market of China, recorded a 38.4 percent increase in total export revenue for the year ended March 31, with its Far Eastern markets surging 49.3 percent.

Exports to China - the country consumes about 55 million tonnes of pork a year, or half of the global total - remained strong, helped by robust demand, particularly from the Shanghai region, Couch said.

Apart from China, Cranswick's fastest-growing market, the company sells in New Zealand and the United States.

The results come at a time when UK pig prices have soared.

UK pig prices jumped 34 percent during the year ended March, compared with a 15 percent decline a year earlier, the company said.

"Cranswick continues to exceed our growth expectations via strong conversion of capex to sales and tight operational management," Davy Research analyst Roland French said.

Revenue from continuing operations rose 22.5 percent in the year ended March 31, its most in at least a decade, to 1.25 billion pounds.

Full-year adjusted pretax profit rose to 75.5 million pounds ($1 = 0.7706 pounds) (Reporting by Rahul B and Tenzin Pema in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Sriraj Kalluvila)

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