AH Ball shares dive on profits warning

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The Independent Online
SHARES IN AH Ball, which lays pipes for the water industry, crashed 40p to 65p after the company issued a profits warning and disclosed that it would cut its final dividend, writes John Murray.

The company blamed pressure on margins and a disappointing flow of work from its schedule contracts with water companies. It also said that other expected orders were delayed or cancelled.

Mike Costello, an analyst at Ball's stockbroker, Kleinwort Benson, said he expected the company to break even in the second half of the year to 31 March, having made pre-tax profits of pounds 407,000 in the first half. Ball made pounds 960,000 full-year profits in 1991/2.

The company said it expected to pay a final dividend of 3.3p, giving a total of 5.5p, against 7p last year.

Mr Costello said the dividend cut, allied to uncertainty about future trading, had caused the share price dive.

'Although the group saw some improvements in contracts gained in the second half, work on its bread-and-butter business, especially for the water companies, was at a very low level.'

The shares recovered slightly to end the day 30p lower at 75p.