Saudi Arabia’s Almarai, the Gulf’s biggest dairy company, reported a marginal rise in fourth-quarter net profit on Sunday, in line with analyst forecasts, as higher sales were offset by the non-recurrence of a one-off gain.
Net earnings in the three months to December 31 were 373.3 million riyals ($99.5 million), 1.2 per cent higher than the 369 million riyals posted in the same period a year earlier, it said in a bourse statement.
Eight analysts polled by Reuters had forecast Almarai would have net profit of 367.8 million riyals in the quarter.
Almarai’s performance in the fourth quarter was boosted by a 13.7 per cent advance in sales year-on-year, with its dairy and juices, poultry and bakery businesses posting strong growth, the company said.
However, its profit increase was tempered by the fact it had posted a one-off gain of 47.2 million riyals in the fourth quarter of 2012 from a land sale.
Profit for the full-year 2013 was up 4.3 per cent on the previous year at 1.5 billion riyals.
On an annual basis, the benefit to earnings of a 13.5 per cent increase in sales was offset by “increasing depreciation and funding costs as a result of the investment program,” the statement added.
Almarai said last month that its board was recommending a 1 riyal per share cash dividend for 2013, down from the 1.25 riyals per share paid out for the previous year.