/ 2 March 2009

Bidvest first-half profit dips on revamp expenses

South Africa’s Bidvest reported an 8,9% fall in first-half headline earnings per share (EPS) due to expenses linked to closing or revamping underperforming motor and United Kingdom food units.

Bidvest, whose act ivies span auto retailing, food distribution and freight services, said on Monday headline EPS for the six months to end December fell to 454 cents from 498,1 cents a year ago, in line with its own forecast for a 9% fall.

Bidvest, one of South Africa’s biggest companies by revenue, said it was hit by a R165,3-million expense linked to the cost of closing or reorganising operations in its South African motor retail, UK-based food services and British logistics businesses.

Stripping out the expense, headline EPS would be 0,8% lower, the company said.

Bidvest, which earns about a quarter of its profits from its European operations, said revenue rose 11,3% to R60-billion and trading profit increased 6,4% to R2,6-billion.

The firm, which also distributes food to pubs, restaurants, hotels and prisons in Europe, is contending with economic headwinds that have seen pubs and restaurants shut in Europe and slumping new vehicle sales due to tighter credit markets in South Africa.

Shares in the company are down about 17% so far this year, roughly in line with Johannesburg’s top-40 index of blue chips. — Reuters