* Co “positive” on outlook excl. mainland China
* Posts higher 2021 attributable profit, dividend
* Says short-term impact of pandemic uncertain (Adds analyst comments, shares)
Aug 19 (Reuters) - Treasury Wine Estates on Thursday struck an upbeat tone for its prospects in fiscal 2022 outside mainland China, after the world’s biggest listed winemaker posted higher annual profit and raised its dividend.
The Australian firm’s shares, however, dropped as much as 4% in a weaker broader market as its earnings missed brokerage Citi’s estimates.
Treasury Wine has been re-directing supply of its prized Penfolds label to the United States, Europe and domestically to cushion a hit from hefty tariffs imposed by China after a diplomatic spat with Australia.
The company “is positive on outlook across its key markets outside mainland China” for fiscal 2022, it said, as it aims for high-single digit average earnings growth over the long-term.
Its business has also been hit by pandemic-driven curbs, though rising vaccination rates and reopening economies are likely to support future growth.
“The short-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on trading conditions in our key markets remains uncertain, despite recent reopening in on-trade channels and improving trade through cellar doors,” Chief Executive Tim Ford said.
Earnings before interest, tax, SGARA and material items (EBITS) was A$510.3 million ($368.2 million) for the year to June 30, within its earlier forecast range of A$495 million to A$515 million and roughly flat from last year.
“EBITS was flat... which is a very good outcome given the A$77 million fall in China EBITS following the tariff,” Jefferies analysts said in a note.
“Strong growth in Asia ex-China provides evidence of reallocation and there are early signs of a COVID-19 recovery,” they said.
Net profit attributable rose to A$250 million from A$245.4 million. It, however, missed a Citi estimate of A$313 million.
The Melbourne-based firm, which in February said it would split its business in brand-led divisions, declared a final dividend of 13 Australian cents per share, compared with 8 Australian cents last year. ($1 = 1.3858 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Riya Sharma, Savyata Mishra and Shashwat Awasthi in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Uttaresh.V)