Tate and Lyle is in a strong position to perform above expectation in the second half of the financial year, says Goldman Sachs, thanks to the positive effect of a large US corn crop for 2008 - and therefore lower prices - on high fructose corn syrup operations.
Goldman Sachs, a broker, today upgraded the UK firm from "hold" to "buy", according to a Reuters report, raised its price target to from 648 to 650 pence.
The upgrade will be welcomed by Tate & Lyle, whose share price has been impacted by fears over its Splenda sucralose high intensity sweetener business.
Fears have been rife that rising commodity prices will have a significant and long-lasting impact on food supply and ingredients. According to the Chicago Board of Trade, corn prices rose dramatically from September 2006 to hit a high of over 440'0 at the beginning of this year, but have since slunk back to 334'6.
In its full year 2007 report Tate & Lyle said it does not expect more than a modest increase in operating profit for Splenda sucralose next year, due to higher production costs as the Singapore plant is commissioned, and increased patent defence costs.
It is also expected that that Tate & Lyle will confirm a share buyback tomorrow using proceeds from the sale of some of its European starch operations to Syral (excluding operations in Koog, The Netherlands - its main corn-based starch production site in Western Europe - Morocco, and its Eaststarch joint venture are excluded from negotiations.
The divestment is expected to raise in the region of €300m.
In full year 2007 the group reported sales from continuing operation of £3.81bn (c €5.6bn) for the 12 months ended March 31, up from £3.46bn (€5.09) the previous year. Operating profit was £333m (€490m).
Despite the good overall outlook, EU sugar reform has continued to exert a drag on its bottom line.