Sardus 2003: Higher earnings; Dividend raised

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Sardus, which is listed on the A-List of Stockholmsbörsen, reported higher earnings for the second successive year. Pretax earnings for 2003 totaled SEK 110 M, an increase of 8%. A large share of the higher earnings is attributable to the fourth quarter. Earnings per share, at SEK 7.55, correspond to a rise of 12% from 2002.

"The Board proposes that the Annual General Meeting approve a dividend of SEK 5.00 per share, up SEK 0.50. This represents the distribution of 68% of net profit, ranking Sardus among the top manufacturing companies on Stockholmsbörsen in this respect. Pretax profit for the fourth quarter in 2003 was SEK 40 M (30), with profit after tax totaling SEK 28 M (20). Sales rose 5% to SEK 1,760 M (1,679). SEK 24 M of the increase derived from the recently acquired Gourmet Service, which was consolidated as of 1 October and is part of the Sardus Foodpartner business unit. Sales rose in the Charkdelikatesser, the Denmark-based 3-Stjernet, and Falbygdens Ost business units. "The single key event during the year was the acquisition of Gourmet Service, which manufactures fish and shell-fish pâté, salad dressings and sandwich salads," notes Ragnar Bringert, President. " This acquisition entails a broadening of the product line and moves us a step closer towards ready-made light meals." "We've managed to raise sales and earnings, despite low market growth, and establish a stable profit level exceeding SEK 100 M," Ragnar Bringert, concludes. For additional information, contact Ranger Bringert, President, telephone 042-37 02 50 or 070-593 62 73.