Specialist international distributer Bunzl (BNZL) said a recovery in its core business and contributions from acquisitions more than offset expected declines in Covid-19 related sales.
The company increased guidance saying it now expected ‘moderate’ growth in revenues in 2022 and an increased operating margin compared with historical levels.
The results and better guidance were well received by investors with the shares gaining 5% to £29.
Revenues for the year to 31 December grew 7% in constant currencies to £10.28 billion while pre-tax profit was 3% higher at £698 million.
Strong cash generation allowed the company to grow its dividend by 5.4% to 57p per share, notching up a 29th consecutive year of growth.
The company has returned £1.8 billion to shareholders since 2004 and delivered compound annual growth in adjusted earnings per share of 10% a year.
Bunzl completed 14 acquisitions throughout the year spending £507.6 million. They contributed incremental annualised revenues and operating profit of £322 million and £46 million respectively.
Over the last two years the company has spent around £950 million on acquiring businesses, representing the most successful period for acquisitions in its history, the company said.
The group said it remained committed to creating value through delivery of organic growth, operational improvements and further consolidating markets through acquisitions.
Robin Speakman at Shore Capital said he is considering upgrades to his current forecasts following a meeting with the company. He said: ‘Bunzl continues to demonstrate resilience to economic uncertainties, including inflationary trends.
‘Bunzl remains very well placed, in our view, to meet the economic challenges ahead, drive cash generation into acquisitive growth whilst protecting its economic interests from inflationary trends.’