Windsor, Berkshire-based engineering company Siebe Plc reckons that, despite restrained customer demand, its performance over the last six months has been outstanding, with pre-tax profits up 6.8% to UKP80.3m on sales down 6.8% to UKP757.3m Second half order books are on a par with the level seen at the beginning of this financial year and […]
Windsor, Berkshire-based engineering company Siebe Plc reckons that, despite restrained customer demand, its performance over the last six months has been outstanding, with pre-tax profits up 6.8% to UKP80.3m on sales down 6.8% to UKP757.3m Second half order books are on a par with the level seen at the beginning of this financial year and the group is looking forward to a recovery in the major countries in which it operates, according to chairman Barrie Stephens. International sales generated UKP691.1m, accounting for 91.3% of group turnover, and contributing 87.6% of group profits. The company’s Temperature & Appliance Controls Division, comprising three major units Robertshaw Controls Co, Ranco Inc and Siebe Environmental Controls continued to suffer difficult market conditions. North American markets were stable compared with last year, but for the first time, those in Japan and Germany faltered. The division says its programme of cost reduction and efficiency improvements helped it to maintain its margins, despite the fluctuating international exchanges and lower demand. Foxboro, Massachusetts-based instrumentation and control company Foxboro Co experienced mixed fortunes. Demand from some of its largest markets – the chemical oil and gas industries, fell as customers deferred major projects. This was balanced, however, by gains in the power generation and pharmaceutical markets. Demand was weakest in the US and Europe but increased in Asia, and the Middle East. Foxboro has restructured its sales and marketing which it says helped to sustain profits, despite the sales shortfall. It has also introduced new high temperature vortex meters, transmitters and flow meters, and enhanced its Industrial Automation System which it says make it well placed to take advantage of an economic upturn. Siebe’s third area of activity, its Diversified Products Division, which comprises CompAir, Tecalemit and the Safety and Life Support likewise protected its operating costs through aggressive cost reductions. The specialist engineering operations made significant gains on demand from Germany and France. Siebe announced that net debt, excluding finance leases, was UKP490m or 68.7%, down from 78.8% at April 4. This helped to push back gearing to 68.7% from 88%. Group net cash flow was UKP34.2, compared with UKP36.3 last year – evidence that the tight controls of working capital are succeeding. The company said it is still investing significant resources in advanced research and development to exploit all opportunities that come its way. Directors recommend an interim dividend of 3.3 pence per share, an increase of 10%.