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Greencore serves up share slump to F&C's Wilson

Greencore serves up share slump to F&C's Wilson

Shares in Greencore (GNC) have slumped after the food manufacturer warned 2018 profits would be lower than expected, blaming poor weather in the UK and delays in its US business.

The shares slumped 23.4% to 139.9p, tumbling to the bottom of the FTSE 250 and on course for its worst-day ever, in an otherwise calm day of trading.

That represents a blow to Thomas Wilson, a high conviction backer of the company, which represents a top 10 holding in both his £41.3 million F&C UK Mid Cap and £60.8 million F&C UK Alpha funds.

Greencore said it was likely to deliver 2018 earnings per share of between 14.7p and 15.7p, down from the 15.7p to 16.6p investors have been expecting. It said two-thirds of those earnings would be delivered in the second half of the year.

The food group said poor weather in the UK had led to softer volume growth in the UK, while in the US, underutilised sites from the Peacock Foods business it bought in 2016 and the weak dollar would hurt performance.

Greencore has responded with a management shake-up of its US business. US boss Chris Kirke is leaving, with group chief executive Patrick Coveney taking a more hands-on role with the US division.

Russ Mould, AJ Bell investment director, said the scale of today's share price fall showed investors were sceptical the company could meet its lowered expectations.

'It is never a good luck for a company to warn on profit a matter of weeks after reporting everything was on track and yet that is the sin committed by convenience foods maker Greencore this morning,' he said.

'The new guidance, which relies on a strong second half, essentially amounts to a 6% downgrade and yet the shares were down more than 20% on the news.

'This implies the market is sceptical of the company’s ability to make up any first half shortfall in the remainder of the year and is spooked by the timing of this announcement.'

Greencore's news weighed on rival food groups, with Premier Foods (PFD) falling to the bottom of the FTSE Small Cap index, down 3.5%.


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