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‘Natural’ megatrend powers handsome Chr Hansen results; shares jump

By Shane Starling , 04-Jul-2012

Surging demand for natural colours, ongoing emerging markets growth, coupled with steady performances in core cheese, meat and cultures and enzymes businesses has delivered healthy Q3 results for Chr Hansen.

CEO Lars Frederiksen told us the company was satisfied with 19% EBITDA year-on-year quarter growth to €51.7m on above-forecast revenues of €181.2m for the quarter.

“These results are stronger than expected and show a strong increase in demand for natural colours in all regions along with the fact the food industry is a lot less vulnerable than other consumables to the tough economic conditions,” he said.

It was also benefitting from client conversion from bulk to easier-to-use and more specialised DVS (direct vat set) cultures.

Fredriksen said while organic growth was lower in Europe, the Middle East and Asia (9%), this was partly due to logistic issues due to political disturbances in the Middle East and a flatter Eurozone economy. South America grew at 28% while North America grew at 17%, with the cultures and enzymes division performing most strongly.

The figures excluded wild price fluctuations for natural, beetle-sourced red colour, carmine, which has settled at around $30-$35/kilogram.

Confectionery and beverages were the dominant users of the natural colours range, Frederiksen said.

The impressive figures saw forecasts improved to 9-11% organic growth from 8-10% and a 10.25% share price hike to DK169.5 at lunchtime.

Frederiksen said the ongoing regulatory clampdown on probiotic health claims in the EU had had a short-term, negative impact on the sector, but, “EU dairies were dealing with the situation, other regions are buoyant and we have three clinical trials due to complete by year’s end.”

“We wish EFSA had been clearer but we are confident we will win claims eventually.”

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