Fenner, the maker of reinforced polymer technology, has said it is 'confident' of a return to growth in its 2013/14 financial year, having delivered half year results below the comparable performance last year.
For the six months ended February 28th 2013, revenue totalled £391.3m, down five per cent from the £412m delivered the same period the previous year after being hit by 'challenges' in both the Engineered Conveyor Solutions ("CS) and Advanced Engineered Products (AEP) divisions.
Operating profit plunged 29% from £50.2m to £35.5m year-on-year, while profit before tax sank 35% from £41.7m to £26.9m.
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Basic earnings per share fell from 14.8p to 8.8p.
Despite the figures, the dividend for the period was increased by seven per cent from 3.5p to 3.75p, which it said was a reflection of its confidence in the group's earning prospects.
The group said it has seen improved order levels in North America, which will be converted into growing revenues in the second half and beyond, which in Australia the business experienced a challenging environmentin the second quarter as a result of lower iron ore and coal prices.
Fenner's acquired businesses have been performing well, it said, adding that their contribution in the initial months of ownership has been ahead of its expectations.
In a statement Chairman Mark Abrahams commented: "Fenner has delivered robust half year results in a challenging operating environment. While, as anticipated, results are below the comparable record performance last year, the first half saw further progress towards our strategic objectives and encouraging evidence of improvement in most of our markets.
"We remain mindful of the continuing global economic uncertainty and ongoing pressures in our Australian business. We expect that our accelerating trading momentum elsewhere in the business will result in a heavier than normal performance weighting this year towards the second half and we are confident of a return to growth in our 2013/2014 financial year."
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