The Southern African integrated poultry producer Astral Foods’ share price rose as much as 7% to a year’s high as it showed signs of improved health in its latest trading update. Astral’s update for the year ended September 30 2017 showed it expected its headline earnings per share would be 80%-100% (772c to 965c) higher than the previous year’s. Headline earnings per share were expected to be between 1,737c and 1,930c per share. Anthony Clark, an equity analyst at Vunani Securities, described the trading update as "brilliant". He said: "This result is a combination of significantly lower input costs in maize and soya year on year, an increase in the price of chicken year on year and significant improvements in operating margin and product mix." Astral Foods had the single largest maize-buying contract in the history of SA, buying 800,000 tonnes a year, Clark said. "Year on year, the price of white maize and yellow maize have plummeted, which means that their input costs year on yea...

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