Shares in Origin Enterprises extended their strong 2013 performance as the owner of the Agrii agronomy chain, unveiling better-than-expected results, revealed that it was returning E100m to shareholders.
The Irish-based company, which also owns the Dalgety grain trading and agronomy business in Poland, said that it would through a tender offer return to shareholders the proceeds of its sale last month of its 50% stake in fish oil business Welcon Invest.
Origin Enterprises said that the tender, a process in which shareholders offer stock for redemption and cancellations, will help offset the "dilutive impact" of the disposal of Welcon, which "delivered a very strong performance" during the year to end of July.
Indeed, the group said that its earnings per share for the year to the end of June 2014 would remain in line with that for the latest financial year, for which the group unveiled a figure up 15.4% at 52.11 euro cents per share.
The announcement of the tender offer - which will return the equivalent of E0.72 a share or more than 11% of the group's market capitalisation to investors at Tuesday's closing price - received a positive response from investors.
At Dublin-based stockbroker Davy, analyst Cathal Kenny said that even after the offer, "Origin will continue to trade with healthy levels of financial flexibility.
"The move to return capital to shareholders while retaining financial flexibility will be well received," said Mr Kenny, retaining an "outperform" rating on Origin Enterprises shares.
The stock stood 3.1% higher at E6.725 in morning deals in Dublin, taking gains so far in 2013 above 65%.
The tender offer also appeared to signal a shift away by Origin Enterprises from making further acquisitions, after its £25m purchase two years ago of Carr's Milling Industries' fertilizer business.
Origin Enterprises said that it had, in deciding to return the E100m to shareholders, taken into account the "profile of the immediate acquisition and investment opportunities".
The group's results for the year to the end of June showed a profit of E20.6m on the Welcon deal.
Origin booked a gain of E323,000 on the E16.3m it received for the sale of tis 24% stake in Continental Farmers, the Ukraine farm operator bought by a Saudi Arabian consortium.
The company said that its core agriculture services division, which includes the UK Agrii agronomy operations, reported a 0.2% drop to E68.9m in operating profits, despite a 5.8% rise to E1.42m in revenues.
The division had shown a "robust performance" against a backdrop of "unprecedented challenges" for UK farmers, battling a 2013 which was the second wettest on record, badly hurting crop yields and fodder availability.
However, the division had seen a "particularly strong" April-to-June quarter, as better weather encouraged "significant catch-up activity", including a jump in spring sowings on the significant tracts of land on which producers were unable to plant in the autumn.
"The most recent period of favourable weather has provided very welcome support to primary producers, as excellent grass growing conditions have helped to replenish conserved fodder stocks for the key winter period."