Platinum refiner Johnson Matthey hailed another year of strong growth as it delivered numbers ahead of market expectations and a special divi worth a quid a share.
Revenue in the year to March 31st rose 20% to £12,023m from £9,985m the year before, comfortably ahead of market expectations of £11,213m.
Underlying profit before tax rose 23% to £426.0m from £345.5m a year earlier, topping market forecasts of £11,213m. Statutory profit before tax, which does not take into account exceptional items, rose 58% to £409.3m from £259.3m.
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Underlying earnings per share (EPS) jumped 29% to 153.7p from 119.0p, while reported EPS rose 75% to 148.7p from 85.2p the year before.
Net debt over the course of the year fell by £185.2m to £454.2m, while at the same time the group's underlying EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) rose by 18% to £576.2m from £489.4m the year before.
Net debt/EBITDA for the year was therefore 0.8 times but if post tax pension deficits of £97.0m are included within net debt, the ratio would increase to 1.0 times. Interest cover (underlying operating profit/net finance costs) was 18.7 times (2010/11 17.7 times).
The full year dividend has been hiked by 20% to 55.0p from 46p a year earlier, on top of which the company is proposing to pay a one-off special dividend of 100p. The company said it has the balance sheet strength to pay out the special dividend even while maintaining capital expenditure and spending on research and development.
"Johnson Matthey has delivered another year of strong growth with a good contribution from all of its divisions. This performance was particularly enhanced by our leading position in heavy duty diesel catalysts, a very strong year from Davy Process Technology and excellent progress in our North American API Manufacturing business," said Neil Carson, Chief Executive of Johnson Matthey.
The group said it remains confident that its strong position in markets with structural growth will allow it to make further progress in Environmental Technologies and Fine Chemicals in 2012/13. This, however, will be offset by a weaker performance from Precious Metal Products, if precious metal prices remain at current levels.
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