Packaging boosts Waddington

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JOHN WADDINGTON, the Monopoly and food packaging company, has notched up a small increase in profit at its core packaging business thanks to a mixture of organic growth, foreign exchange gains and the acquisition in May of Carthage Cup Company of Texas.

Food packaging operating profit climbed 7 per cent to pounds 6.1m in the six months to 2 October after pounds 5.7m last year. The division's sales rose 21 per cent to pounds 74.9m ( pounds 61.7m).

The improvement was driven by a 59 per cent rise in plastic packaging profit, where the acquisition of Carthage and pounds 500,000 of gains on the strength of the dollar combined with increasing market share. Total packaging profit was depressed by losses in the two labels businesses.

The games division, smallest of the businesses, increased operating profits from pounds 2m to pounds 2.2m. Turnover was virtually static at pounds 11.9m compared with pounds 12.4m.

A pounds 512,000 one-off gain from the sale of an old carton factory near Leeds gave an extra fillip to pre-tax group profit. It rose by 16 per cent to pounds 9m compared with pounds 7.8m. Group turnover went up 9 per cent to pounds 118.2m compared with pounds 108m.

Martin Buckley, chief executive, said he was confident about prospects for the current year and hoped to reap some reward from about pounds 100m of capital expenditure. He is increasing the interim dividend from 3.6p to 3.8p. Earnings per share were up from 7p to 8.13p.

The shares fell 12p to 245p.