With boardroom squabbles behind it, Eurotherm Plc is taking advantage of a slightly depressed market to pick up some bargain acquisitions. The Horsham, UK-based industrial automation company has bought three businesses this year, and is on the look out for further acquisitions with the 13m pounds or so it has in the bank. Chief executive […]
With boardroom squabbles behind it, Eurotherm Plc is taking advantage of a slightly depressed market to pick up some bargain acquisitions. The Horsham, UK-based industrial automation company has bought three businesses this year, and is on the look out for further acquisitions with the 13m pounds or so it has in the bank. Chief executive Claes Hultman said the markets for Eurotherm products were less than buoyant, as the company predicted at the half year stage (CI No 2,689). However, he said the good news was that this meant the price tag on its target acquisitions was also lower, and since the company had cash to play with, it was able to benefit. Eurotherm turned in profits for the year to October up 11% at 37.7m pounds on revenue that rose 6% to 206.5m pounds. The company bought four small companies this year, three of them in the US, which Hultman says are very complementary to its existing business. They are in the areas of drives for electric motors, solid state switching and pressure transmitters. Hultman said the company intends to take each of the acquired technologies into Europe next year. However, the acquisitions were all completed toward the end of the year, and did not contribute to profit. Private wrangling in the company’s boardroom became public in the summer, culminating in Hultman’s resignation (CI No 2,950), apparently because he was after the job of chairman. Jack Leonard, then chairman and founder, said at the time that a scientifically-based company needs an entrepreneurial team; Claes is an individual leader and that is not appropriate for the chairman. However, the City was not happy with Hultman’s departure, and it was Leonard who lost the battle (CI No 2,973). He has been replaced by Sir James Hann, and Hultman remains as chief executive. That matter is all behind us now, Hultman says. Eurotherm’s Drives division had an excellent year of rapid growth in its European markets, but what it calls ‘consolidation’ in the US. The gauging division, which makes thickness gauges for plastic films, had an exceptional year, mainly from Europe and the Far East rather than the US. The Controls & Instrumentation division, which was promising profits from new products in the second half (CI No 2,937), had some delays in introducing the new products, which meant they had little financial impact in the year. However, it says the full range of Series 2000 controllers and graphic or paperless recorders, is now available. Sir James says that following a comprehensive strategic review in August, the company is now seeking further organic growth in new markets and greater penetration of existing markets. It will also continue to introduce new products, some through acquisition, and is proposing a final dividend of 5.0 pence, making a total for the year up 20% at 9.0 pence.