Meat and fish packaging firm Hilton Food tops forecasts / Image Source: Adobe
  • Earnings per share top forecasts
  • Seafood business back on track
  • Group looking at growth options

Shares in FTSE 250 fresh goods packaging firm Hilton Food (HFG) climbed 2.1% to a new year-high of 872p in early trading after the firm posted better-than-expected earnings and increased its dividend.

Chief executive Steve Murrells hailed the company’s ‘good performance against a challenging market’ and said Hilton Food had ‘the right attributes in place to unlock growth organically and with new customers’.


Sales for the year to December rose 0.7% in volume terms but 5.7% in value terms to just shy of £4 billion, in line with market estimates.

Adjusted operating profit rose more than 30% to £95 million driven by a faster-than-planned recovery in the seafood division, while the meat packaging business continued to perform well with strong volume growth in Asia and ‘resilient’ sales in the UK and Europe.

Adjusted pre-tax earnings rose 20% to £66 million, which translated into earnings per share of 52.9p against consensus forecasts of 50.4p, while cash flow was positive to the tune of £112 million and net bank debt was substantially reduced leaving gearing at one times EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization).

That allowed the group to increase the total dividend by 7.7% to 32p against 29.7p the previous year and gives it ‘headroom to explore new growth opportunities with existing partners, wider geographic expansion and complementary M&A (mergers and acquisitions)’.


Trading so far this year has been in line with the company’s expectations, although it admitted markets remained ‘challenging’.

‘We are confident the business is well placed, within a large and attractive international market, to continue to deliver its strategy to create long term value for shareholders, through its outstanding protein products, dedicated partnerships, leading technology offer through Greenchain Solutions and a robust sustainability plan’, the firm added.

The group has grown its international customer base with a new deal in Canada with Walmart (WMT:NYSE), the world’s largest retailer, as well as rolling out new concepts with existing customers including a food park in Sweden.

To cater to changing consumer tastes it has consolidated its vegan and vegetarian business and launched new ‘value’ protein ranges together with healthy pre-prepared products.


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Issue Date: 03 Apr 2024