Logistics firm Stobart grew revenues and profits last year despite its core Transport and Distribution operations enduring difficult market conditions.
Group turnover rose from £500.4m in 2010 to £551.9m in the year to February 29th 2011, while underlying profit before tax came in at £35.2m compared to £34.5m in the previous year. Diluted earnings per share eased yo 8.97p from 9.02p the year before.
The Air division made a small loss as the company completed investment in new facilities at London Southend Airport. The airport is on target to achieve two million passengers annually earlier than the forecast 2020.
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The Stobart Biomass operation, which the group took full control of in May of last year, grew strongly, making a maiden underlying profit contribution of £1.2m.
In Transport & Distribution, underlying pre-tax profits fell from £34.2m to £27.4m, as customers suffered in the economic downturn. Stobart incurred around £4m in additional costs which it has not been able to pass on fully to customers. On the plus side, Stobart claims improved fleet utilisation and new information systems saw an improvement in margins.
The Estates division made a normalised pre-tax profit contribution of £12.4m.
At Infrastructure & Civil Engineering profits more than doubled to £4.4m.
Cash generated from operations was up sharply at £57.6m from£27.7m in the previous financial year. The increase is due to a stronger focus on working capital management reducing debtor days and in some cases extending supplier payment terms.
The net debt of the group has increased to £166.0m at the end of the reporting period from £156.1m a year earlier.
The board is proposing a final dividend of 4.0p per ordinary share, for a total dividend for the year of 6.0p, in line with previous years.
"We are on track and looking forward to a positive year ahead," declared Chief Executive Andrew Tinkler.
The market was clearly impressed with the results, with the stock up 3.4% at 08:50.
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