November 3/Copenhagen/Reuters -- Danish food ingredients maker Chr. Hansen reported fourth-quarter earnings below the market's average expectation and gave a cautious outlook for its 2011/12 financial year.

Chr. Hansen said it expected 2011/12 organic revenue growth of between 7-10%, softer than its long-term guidance for annual growth of 8-10% on a two- to four-year horizon.

However, chief executive Lars Frederiksen told Reuters the company aimed to narrow the growth outlook to the upper range of the 7-10% range later in the year.

"We would like to be a little conservative at the start of the year and then narrow the interval as we proceed through 2011 and 2012," Frederiksen said. "We aim to narrow the interval to the upper end."

Chr. Hansen said it expected its full-year 2011/12 operating profit margin to rise to above 26% from 25% in the year just ended.

Chr. Hansen said operating profit rose to 45.9 million euros ($63.3 million) in the three months through August, from 42.5 million in the fourth quarter last year. The result missed an average analyst estimate of 49.2 million in a Reuters survey.

Revenue rose to 161.5 million euros from 154.1 million a year earlier, also below an average forecast of 173 million.

Turnover in its Cultures and Enzymes division, which accounted for 60% of total full-year turnover, rose organically by 5% in the fourth quarter, while Health and Nutrition turnover rose by 24%.

"The result is very good, particularly profitability in its Cultures and Enzymes and Health and Nutrition divisions," said Sydbank analyst Morten Imsgard. "In spite of the economic uncertainty, the company predicts good growth rates."

The company said it would pay a dividend of 3.57 crowns per share and would change its dividend policy, adopting a target of paying out 30-50% of net profit instead of 30-40%.       

 From the November 4, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.