In the results released today (5 December) for the six-month period ended 31 October 2019, the London-headquartered packaging giant achieved revenue of £3.19bn, representing year-on-year growth of 4% or 3% by constant currency conditions. Pre-tax profit was up by 31% year-on-year, or by 30% under constant currency conditions, to £213m.
Adjusted operating profit was up 15% year-on-year, or by 14% under constant currency conditions, to £351m, while the company’s return on sales was up by 110 basis points to 11%.
The group said it achieved market share gains driven by multinational FMCG and e-commerce customers and that customers are “increasingly valuing” its sustainable packaging offerings.
Highlights included “good organic profit growth” in Europe and “excellent progress and strong initial contribution” from Europac, which DS Smith completed its acquisition of in January.
Chief executive Miles Roberts said: “We’re very pleased with the last six months. We’ve seen we’ve been able to drive greater value into our customers, providing them with the solutions they need to solve their problems.
“We’ve also had the contribution from our new acquisition in Europac and that’s been tremendous, so together they’ve resulted in a very good set of results.”
Group finance director Adrian Marsh added: “I think it’s been a really good performance this half. It’s been a difficult economic background – the macro-economics have been tough – but the business has performed really well. Our core European business has done exceptionally well.
“In North America we’ve got a long paper position and we have had an exposure to the fall in price of export paper prices, which has had an impact. We said this time last year, and at the full year, that the industrial segment in Europe has been slow and we’ve had a small amount of exposure to that.
“Within our core FMCG business we’ve seen good growth, so on balance I’m reasonably happy with where we are, recognising the economic background that we’ve been operating in.”
Roberts said the company’s outlook for the second half is positive despite the general challenging economic conditions, which it expects to see continue.
The board said it continues to capitalise on the strong long-term growth drivers of fibre-based packaging and anticipates an acceleration of volume growth in the second half of the year “assuming current macro-economic conditions prevail”.
This “together with the resilience of our business model” supports the group’s expectation of further growth in the year and it has declared an interim dividend per share of 5.4p, up 4% year-on-year.
DS Smith’s share price fell by 3.4% in early trading to 364.7p, but had recovered to 367p at the time of writing.