Merrydown results dent share price

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MERRYDOWN, the cider maker, disappointed the stock market yesterday with a 14 per cent fall in taxable profits.

Shares in the USM-quoted stock slumped 25p to close at 353p as Merrydown's profits fell from pounds 2.2m to pounds 1.9m for the year to 31 March.

Profits were hit by a poor performance in Merrydown's honey subsidiary, the higher cost of apple juice because of crop failures on the Continent, and higher interest charges on money borrowed for capital investment.

The flotation of its rival Taunton Cider and good results from HP Bulmer have raised the profile of cider companies during recent weeks. Merrydown's chairman, Richard Purdey, endorsed his rivals' views that the total cider market is growing.

Earnings per share, adjusted for a one-for-eight scrip issue, fell 16 per cent to 17.1p, but Merrydown increased its full-year dividend 12.5 per cent to 7p.