March 13, 2019 / 10:14 AM / 12 days ago

UPDATE 1-Dips and spreads boost Israeli foodmaker Strauss's fourth-quarter profit

(Adds dividend, details, CEO quotes)

By Tova Cohen

TEL AVIV, March 13 (Reuters) - Israeli food producer Strauss Group reported a 13.6 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit, boosted by growth in its home market and in its international dips and spreads business.

Strauss, a maker of snacks, fresh food and coffee, said on Wednesday it earned an adjusted 87 million shekels ($24 million)in October-December, up from 77 million a year earlier.

Revenue slipped 0.4 percent to 2.15 billion shekels. Excluding foreign currency effects, revenue rose 2.5 percent.

Strauss is the second-largest company in the Israeli food and drink sector. Its domestic market share in 2018 rose to 11.7 percent from 11.5 percent in 2017.

Global coffee sales fell 6.1 percent from a year earlier to 1.02 billion shekels due to mainly to foreign exchange effects including the appreciation of the shekel against the Brazilian real and the rouble.

Excluding currency effects, coffee sales slipped 0.4 percent due to a drop in the price of green coffee in Brazil.

Tres Coracoes, Strauss’ 50-50 joint venture with Sao Miguel Holding e Investimentos, is the leader in Brazil, with a 27.3 percent market share, up from 25.8 percent in 2017.

Most of the growth was due to an increase in sales of roast and ground coffee. In April, Tres Coracoes acquired activities in northern Brazil for 23 million shekels.

“Our strategy right now in Brazil is to consolidate and when we identify a brand in the right area ... that can provide value we are open to acquisitions,” Strauss CEO Giora Bardea told a news conference. “But there is no specific transaction on the table.”

Strauss is also one of the market leaders for roast and ground coffee in central and eastern Europe.

Sales at its international dips and spreads joint ventures with PepsiCo rose 10.3 percent to 186 million shekels.

Strauss declared a dividend of 200 million shekels, up from 160 million in 2017. ($1 = 3.6110 shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen Editing by Steven Scheer and Louise Heavens)

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