29 January 2020 – interim results

Interim results covering the six months ended 30 November 2019 have been released.  As expected, revenue fell to £124.7m (2018: £167.9m) but underlying operating profit was up, rising to £2.5m (2018: £2.1m).  After accounting for exceptional items, operating profit was £5.4m (2018: loss of £6.1m).  After financial income and expenses and including the share of post-tax profits of a German associate, consolidated profit before tax was £5.2m (2018: loss of £6.0m).  Basic underlying earnings per share from continuing operations were 6.4p (2018: 5.4p) and 13.6p (2018: loss per share 2.6p) on a reported basis.  The interim dividend was held at 2.7p.  Net debt was £40.3m.  Prior to accounting changes in accordance with IFRS 16, net debt would have been recorded as £34.7m (2018: £28.6m).  Inventory levels are not expected to reduce until the next financial year.  Full year operating results are set to be slightly ahead of expectations due to the benefit of ongoing trading with British Steel, which is expected to continue until at least the end of February 2020.  We keep our BUY rating, particularly for those willing to invest for the long term.