3 March 2020 – final results

Results for the year ended 31 December 2019 have been released.  These were in line with expectations following a strong second half, as anticipated.  Revenue was up 3% to £2,300.5m with growth in North America and EMEA.  Underlying operating profit was £103.8m on an IFRS 16 basis and £101.8m on an IAS 17 basis.  Underlying earnings per share were 81.3p on an IFRS 16 basis and 83.5p on an IAS 17 basis (2018: 79.1p on an IAS 17 basis).  Net debt on a bank covenant IAS 17 basis was reduced by 26% to £213.1m.  A final dividend of 27.4p per share (including a non-recurring supplementary dividend of 2.3p per share) brings the 2019 full year dividend to 40.0p per share, an increase of 11% on the prior year.  A revised strategy, which was announced in late 2019, will lead to a more focused and higher quality business.  The current year is said to have started well and the outlook remains cautiously optimistic.  Another year of continued progress is anticipated, backed up by an order book in excess of £1bn.  We keep our BUY rating.