Alexandra Workwear climbs back into profit of pounds 1.7m

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ALEXANDRA Workwear, maker of clothing from boilersuits to nurses' uniforms, bounced back into profit last year, helped by a lower interest bill and the absence of one-off costs.

Pre-tax profits were pounds 1.7m for the 12 months to 30 January. In the year before Alexandra lost pounds 500,000.

The company targets small business customers and has a 200,000- strong client list. The results pleasantly surprised the stock market and the company's shares jumped nearly 8 per cent to 128p from 119p.

However, operating profits slipped back from pounds 3.6m to pounds 3.4m. Operating profit margins also suffered.

Taxable profits saw the benefit of a pounds 1.7m interest charge, against pounds 2.6m in 1991. Alexandra's debt now stands 37 per cent lower at pounds 10.1m. The gearing ratio is 46 per cent compared with 73 per cent.

Pre-tax profits for 1991 were also burdened by a pounds 1.5m exceptional cost of redundancies and plant re-organisation. There were no one-offs in last year's figures.

Gerald Dennis, the chairman, fuelled positive sentiment, saying: 'Although activity remains fairly flat there are certain signs of increasing interest in additional workwear.'

Stockbroker Barclays de Zoete Wedd marked up its forecast for current-year profits from pounds 3m to pounds 4m. The earnings per share estimate was improved from 6p to 8.3p, valuing the shares at a multiple of 15.5 times prospective earnings.

Earnings for last year were 3.5p against losses of 0.8p and the dividend was raised to 3.8p from 3.6p.