Corn and ethanol price weakness weighs on Tate & Lyle

Tate's adjusted pre-tax profit in the year to March 31 rose 5% to £193mln on broadly flat sales
Corn and ethanol price weakness weighs on Tate & Lyle
Tate's bulk ingredient (BI) arm boosted adjusted operating profit 1%, although it fell 3% at constant currency

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Tate & Lyle PLC (LON:TATE) reported higher annual profit, although it took a hit from lower corn costs and weak ethanol prices in the US.

Tate's bulk ingredient (BI) arm boosted adjusted operating profit by 1%, although it fell 3% at constant currency as the weaker commodity prices took their toll.

Bulk ingredient volumes grew 3% in 2015/16 as North American bulk corn sweetener volumes rose 1%.

But the robust sweetener demand was almost offset by price weakness in other commodity markets such as ethanol.

The company completed capacity expansion projects for its speciality food ingredient (SFI) business as planned and said its supply chain did better as operational disciplines improved.

Group adjusted pre-tax profit in the year to March 31 rose 5% to £193mln on broadly flat sales of about £2.3bn.

Shares rose 10.2p, or 1.6%, to 624.16p in early London trading.

Liberum Capital said it rated Tate as a 'buy' with a 700p target price.

Russ Mould at AJ Bell said: "Tate & Lyle has recovered from a torrid 2015 following a good performance from its speciality food ingredients business, which makes sugar substitutes."

Shore Capital forecast a return to volume growth across SFI, excluding sucralose and food systems, driven by North America.

It said planned consolidation of sucralose production into one site in Alabama should offset anticipated further volume losses.

In BI, whilst still early in the season, management previously guided to a modest margin benefit following the annual sweetener rounds.

Shore analyst Darren Shirley said: "We retain our 'hold' recommendation, with a more positive stance requiring a leap of faith on sustained SFI delivery that we are not yet confident enough to make."

The company re-aligned its Eaststarch joint venture to increase speciality focus and reduce exposure to regulated markets

It also restructured and positioned its Splenda sucralose arm as a more focused, low-cost and sustainable business.

Tate proposed a final dividend of 19.8p, making an unchanged total dividend of 28p, as previously indicated.

Chief executive Javed Ahmed said: "Both business divisions delivered margin expansion and we completed the major structural change initiatives needed to further strengthen the business and drive higher quality earnings.

"Turning to the outlook for the 2017 financial year, subject to currency movements, we are confident the group will continue to make progress in line with our plan."

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Tate & Lyle Timeline

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September 23 2014
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February 24 2014

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