Greencore Group Plc, the world's biggest maker of prepared sandwiches, expects profit for its current fiscal year to meet analysts' estimates, driven by its convenience-foods unit.
Earnings per share will ``at least match'' the consensus estimate of 25.6 cents, the Dublin-based company said today in a statement. Greencore, whose fiscal year runs through September, holds its annual shareholder meeting today.
Greencore, formerly known as Irish Sugar, ended 80 years in the sugar industry last year as the European Union cuts back subsidies and has moved into convenience-foods to tap demand from time-pressed shoppers. The company is now the largest maker of goods including chilled Italian prepared meals, according to market-research company Taylor Nelson Sofres Plc.
``The strategic and operational model of the convenience- foods division will drive further growth in 2007,'' Chairman Ned Sullivan said in the statement.
A fire at a factory in December will ``negatively impact'' costs at the sandwich division this year, the company said. The unit also faces ``strong'' increases in raw material costs.
The company's malt division, which suffered from poor conditions in Europe in 2006, is expected to benefit from an improvement in the malt industry this year, the statement said.
Shares of Greencore fell 3 cents, or 0.7 percent, to 4.50 euros in Dublin yesterday, reducing the company's market value to 893.7 million euros ($1.17 billion).
Greencore, which supplies products such as fresh soups to Wal- Mart Stores Inc. (WMT:US)'s Asda and organic sauces to J Sainsbury Plc (SBRY), shut its last sugar plant in Mallow, southern Ireland, last year.
The company said Jan. 16 it may build a 500 million-euro commercial and residential development on the Mallow site. It wants to convert the land into a center with 1,000 homes, offices, a hotel and golf course, under plans submitted to the local council.
Greencore also said in November it submitted a proposal to build a 1.1 billion-euro business and residential development at another former sugar plant near the Irish town of Carlow.
Developers are seeking land as property prices surge in Ireland, whose economy is the fastest-growing in the euro area.
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