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AVI Profit Climbs as Fish and Biscuit Sales Advance, Prices Rise

March 10 (Bloomberg) -- AVI Ltd., a South African consumer-goods maker, said first-half profit gained as he company raised prices and sold more I&J frozen seafood and Bakers biscuits.

Net income rose 23 percent to 839.7 million rand ($77.9 million) in the six months through December, the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement today. Operating profit advanced 60 percent to 74.3 million rand at the I&J unit and gained 21 percent to 297.9 million rand at the snackworks division, which includes biscuits.

The rand -- which weakened 5.8 percent against the U.S. dollar in the last six months of 2013 -- made imported goods more expensive, while raising export revenue at I&J, AVI said.

The seafood unit should have a “strong second half and full-year performance” after catch rates at I&J improved together with the weaker rand, AVI said. Even so, consumer demand may worsen further if interest rates continue to rise and the rand’s weakness is sustained, it said. AVI slid 0.1 percent to 51.40 rand as of 9:30 a.m. in Johannesburg.

The Reserve Bank of South Africa unexpectedly lifted its benchmark repurchase rate 50 basis points to 5.5 percent on Jan. 29.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janice Kew in Johannesburg at jkew4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net Kim McLaughlin, Thomas Mulier

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