Farmers pack sugar cane in the southern Egyptian town of Nagaa Hamady in Qena
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's Tongaat Hulett expects a 45 percent rise in full-year earnings as its sugar production operations swing back to profit, the company said on Friday.
A severe drought in southern Africa has weighed on agricultural production and constrained Tongaat's sugar cane growing in Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa.
However, it said it expects headline earnings per share to rise to 852 cents from 588 cents in the year to end-March on higher market prices and increased import protection for sugar.
Tongaat also produces starch, which it said was negatively impacted by higher drought-related maize costs.
Sugar production edged up to 1.06 million tonnes from 1.02 million tonnes, Tongaat said in a statement.
"The recovery from these poor growing conditions, with two years of regular growing conditions, is expected to result in sugar production exceeding 1.5 million tons," Tongaat said.
(Reporting by TJ Strydom; editing by Jason Neely)
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