Tate & Lyle Still Looks Sweet

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LONDON -- Tate & Lyle (LSE: TATE.L  ) has transformed itself with the sale of its sugar refining and molasses businesses, entering the FTSE 100 last year as investors warmed to its new, slimmed-down look. Today, there was more evidence of the wisdom of that strategy with another solid trading update.

Tate & Lyle now has two main business units -- Specialty Food Ingredients and Bulk Ingredients. The former saw an improved second-quarter performance, with "solid growth in the U.S. and emerging markets offsetting a weaker performance in Europe." However, the lack of major product launches from customers, plus a strike in Turkey, will mean first-half profits for this part of the business are lower than last year.

Bulk Ingredients has benefited from strong sales of liquid sweeteners, which offset weakness in the U.S. ethanol markets. Thanks to the better performance from this unit, Tate & Lyle expects its first-half profits will be in line with last year.

Looking forward, Tate & Lyle is still expecting corn prices in the U.S. and Europe to be high, following the poor harvests this year. Despite this, and the continuing economic uncertainty, the company still reckons it can "make progress this financial year."

The shares responded to the update with a rise of 1% to 663 pence. Valued at 3.1 billion pounds, Tate & Lyle trades on a forward price-to-earnings ratio of just under 12, while offering a prospective yield of around 4%.

After hitting a low of 230 pence during early 2009, the shares have since rewarded loyal investors with a superb 190% gain. Such returns suggest it may pay to keep an eye on Tate & Lyle, especially if conditions in the eurozone improve and shares in general embark on a bull run.

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Stuart Watson does not own any share mentioned in this article. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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