Camellia's results hit by drought

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The Independent Online
DROUGHT in the Far East and Africa caused a 66 per cent slump in interim profits at Camellia, the holding company for a spread of businesses from fruit and nuts to fine art.

Despite the fall, Camellia raised its dividend by 1p to 12p, saying crop yields from agricultural interests were delayed and not wiped out. A spokesman said it would mean a boost for pre-tax profits in the second period.

Half-year taxable profits to June 30 were 1.8m (pounds 5.2) on turnover down to pounds 72m (pounds 77m).

Camellia owns 70 per cent of Lawrie Group, whose tea and coffee plantations suffered from dreadful weather conditions in Kenya, Malawi and in India, where the collapse of the rupee depressed earnings. Lawrie owns the fruit company Linton Park whose operations in Australia and the United States were affected by depressed citrus prices.

Camellia's news from the UK was not much better. Its London art galleries have been caught in one of the worst depressions to hit the market. Its textile business, British Mohair Holdings, suffered reduced margins and does not see any upturn in consumer spending.

The spokesman said: 'We have raised the dividend because a lot of shareholders are overseas and we feel obliged to offset some of the money lost by sterling's devaluation.'

Camellia's house broker would not forecast full-year profits.