August 23, 2018 / 11:17 PM / a year ago

UPDATE 1-Australia's Costa Group annual profit doubles

(Adds CEO comment, other performance metrics, outlook)

Aug 24 (Reuters) - Costa Group Holdings Ltd, Australia’s biggest horticultural firm, reported a doubling in full-year attributable profit, helped by strong performance in its produce and international segments and one-off items.

Full-year profit attributable rose 99.5 percent to A$115.2 million ($84.28 million) from A$57.7 million last year. The net profit included an A$48.3 million gain from consolidation of a 49 percent interest in a Moroccan joint venture, African Blue.

Strong performance from its citrus, mushrooms and tomato categories helped outweigh a lower than expected contribution from African Blue because of prolonged cold weather, causing a delay in maturity of the crop, Chief Executive Harry Debney said.

Australia’s top grower and marketer of fruit and vegetables said net profit excluding one-offs rose to A$76.7 million from A$60.7 million, while full-year revenue climbed 10 percent to A$1.00 billion from A$909.1 million in fiscal 2017.

For the current year, the company said it expected to generate low double-digit net profit growth after tax in the year ahead to June 30, 2019.

The firm announced a final dividend of 7.0 Australian cents per share, the same as a year ago.

Costa also said its board approved the construction of 10 hectares (25 acres) of additional produce capability at its Guyra facility in New South Wales for A$67 million. That would expand its nursery capacity and enhance its capability for produce packing, and is expected to start production in May 2020, the company said.

$1 = 1.3669 Australian dollars Reporting by Aaron Saldanha and Susan Mathew in Bengaluru; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Peter Cooney

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