Aryzta shares rise on better-than-expected earnings

Cuisine de France owner sees revenue jump to €2.2bn

Aryzta’s shares rose in Zurich on Monday as the Swiss-Irish baked goods group reported better-than-expected annual results and its guidance for a slowing of revenue growth this year was in line with what analysts had been predicting.

The group’s revenue rose by 14.4 per cent to €2.19 billion over the 12 months to the end of December 2023, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) jumped 32.3 per cent.

Arzyta, whose customers range from McDonald’s and Subway to Lidl, Aldi and Dunnes Stores, moved last year from a fiscal period that ended in June to reporting in line with the calendar. Its €3.05 billion revenue and €400.8 million ebitda for the 17 months to December each came in slightly above the top-end of analysts’ forecasts.

“Both 17-month and 12-month results were clearly above expectations,” said Andreas von Arx, an analyst with Helvea in Switzerland.


Shares in Aryzta rose by as much as 5.7 per cent early in the session, though they drifted back from their highs as the wider European market handed back earlier gains. They closed 1.7 per cent higher.

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The group said its organic revenue growth will slow this year to be in the “low-single digit” percentage range from 14.7 per cent for calendar 2023, partly down to “softness” experienced so far this year in the quick service restaurant sector.

McDonald’s, a key customer, last month reported weak sales growth in its international business, partly as the burger giant found itself among several western brands that have seen protests and boycott campaigns against them over their perceived pro-Israeli stance in the Israel-Hamas conflict.

“With the post-Covid recovery boost no longer a factor and a reducing price effect, we expect full year 2024 growth rates to normalise,” said Aryzta chairman and interim chief executive Urs Jordi, who rejoined the group in late 2020 as part of boardroom coup after years of profit warnings at Aryzta.

“Our growth will remain organic-focused and innovation-led, while our margin progression will be supported by efficiencies and costs optimisation. We expect 2024 quarterly growth trends to vary, as was the case in 2023.”

Mr Jordi, a baker by training who walked away from Aryzta in 2013 after the company had become a large debt-fuelled mergers and acquisitions (M&A) vehicle, has focused ever since rejoining the business on cutting back its asset base and unsustainably high borrowings and repositioning its baked goods to cater for evolving tastes.

The company has lowered its focus on commodities breads and moved more towards speciality offerings, such as sourdough, high protein and clean-label products.

Aryzta struck a deal to sell its troubled North American business to US private equity firm Lindsay Goldberg in March 2021 for $850 million (€807.2 million). It disposed of its Brazilian business months later.

Mr Jordi has also overseen a sharp reduction in Aryzta’s net debt to €1 billion from €1.89 billion in mid-2020, just before he took over the then-troubled company.

Aryzta expects to appoint a new permanent chief executive “later this year” as the dual role of group interim chief executive and chairman is scheduled to end in 2024.

“The transition to the new permanent CEO will involve significant oversight and support from the chairman and the board,” it said. “In addition, Aryzta expects to update its three-year plan and targets for 2026-2028 in the course of the year.”

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times