Spectris sees growth accelerate in fourth quarter

Full-year like-for-like (LFL) sales growth at instrumentation and controls group Spectris was boosted by a strong fourth quarter, as the firm said it is well positioned for 2013.

Full-year like-for-like (LFL) sales growth at instrumentation and controls group Spectris was boosted by a strong fourth quarter, as the firm said it is well positioned for 2013.

LFL sales growth accelerated from 2% to 4% from the third to the fourth quarter of 2012, "helping deliver a robust full year performance despite a challenging trading environment," Spectris said in a pre-close trading update on Friday.

Full-year sales rose 11% on a reported basis, which included 10% from acquisitions, offset by a 2% negative impact from foreign exchange movements. LFL sales increased 3% in 2012 as a whole.

The company said that LFL sales in the Asia Pacific region increased by 6% last year, with China showing "continued strength". North America sales rose by 5% but Europe registered a fall of 1%.

The company, which employs 7,500 people worldwide, has four main divisions: Materials Analysis; Test & Measurement; In-Line Instrumentation; and Industrial Controls.

Full-year adjusted operating profit increased from £201.5m in 2011 to £229m, while the adjusted operating margin improved from 18.2% to 18.6%.

Spectris said that cash conversion continued to be strong and its financial position remains "robust", with net debt at the end of the year in line with forecasts.

"We are pleased with the performance and the resilience shown by our businesses during the year," said Chief Executive John O'Higgins.

"For 2013, we are well positioned and will continue to focus on our strategic priorities including further strengthening of our R&D pipeline and the development of our recent acquisitions, whilst our strong balance sheet enables us to seek additional inorganic growth opportunities."

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