UPDATE 1-Packaging firm Mondi posts 19 pct rise in annual profit

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UPDATE 1-Packaging firm Mondi posts 19 pct rise in annual profit
Credit: © Reuters.

(Adds details on cost control, background)

Feb 28 (Reuters) - Packaging and paper group Mondi MNDI.L MNDJ.J on Thursday reported a 19 percent rise in full-year underlying core profit, driven by robust demand for its products and higher average selling prices.

The group, which is listed in London and Johannesburg, said underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to 1.76 billion euros ($2.00 billion)in the year ended Dec. 31, up from 1.48 billion euros a year earlier. 52-year-old firm — like its peers Smurfit Kappa Group Plc SKG.I , Sappi Ltd SAPJ.J and DS Smith Plc SMDS.L — has been plagued by pricing pressures from higher costs for raw materials and said on Thursday it had implemented "strong" cost control across the group.

"I am particularly pleased to report on ... strong cost containment, mitigating the inflationary pressures on our cost base," Chief Executive Officer Peter Oswald said.

The company, which makes office paper and corrugated cardboard boxes, expanded over the years from being predominantly a producer of printing paper into a packaging manufacturer for consumer goods, with a market capitalisation of about 8.99 billion pounds.

"Pricing is mixed going into 2019, with recent price reductions in containerboard grades and market pulp and stronger pricing in our kraft paper markets," Oswald said. ($1 = 0.8795 euros)

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