S.Africa glass packager Consol lifts EPS 4.7 pct, sees solid H2

South African glass packaging firm Consol lifted interim earnings 4.7 percent on Wednesday, saying it planned to boost market share and post a solid performance in the second half.Headline earnings per share rose to 58.2 cents from 55.6 cents in the previous period.

Headline earnings per share strip out capital, non trading and one-off items.

"Trading conditions are expected to remain positive, driven by continued good growth in gross domestic product and consumer disposable income," the group said in a statement to the Johannesburg Securities Exchange.

Low interest rates, tax cuts and subdued inflation have boosted the South African consumer's disposable income and the economy grew by an annualised 4 percent during the fourth quarter of 2004.

The company said it would focus on operational efficiencies, lowering costs and increasing market share. As a result the company expected a solid performance in the second half of the year.

"We will increase our market share by converting some of the packaging to glass away from cans and plastic in line with customer preference," Managing Director Mike Arnold told Reuters.

The firm said turnover rose 3.5 percent to 1.2 billion rand while operating profit rose to 279.9 million rand.

"Consol has performed extremely well in the period under review in all of its glass operations. However, imports and higher input costs adversely affected the plastics business," the group said.

Glass contributes 1.1 billion rand to turnover. Arnold said volumes were affected by growing bottle imports from the Middle East.

"It's not only because of the stronger rand, which makes imports cheaper, but their (Middle east) pricing policies," said Arnold.

Consol debuted on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange on Monday after unbundling from food and packaging firm AVI.

By 0905 GMT Consol shares fell 0.45 percent to 10.95 rand, while the JSE mid-cap index was largely flat.

600450 S.Africa glass packager Consol lifts EPS 4.7 pct, sees solid H2 glassonweb.com

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