ANS pays first dividend for more than two years

ASSOCIATED Nursing Services, the USM-quoted provider of long-term care, is paying its first dividend for more than two years after reporting a 62 per cent increase in pre-tax profits from a restated pounds 1.126m to pounds 1.82m for the year to 31 March.

A final of 1p is ANS's first payment since a net 1p interim dividend was paid in April 1991. The company was later refinanced through a pounds 6.3m equity injection in February 1992.

Profits in the previous year have been restated to reflect queries about ANS's accounting policies, particularly on interest capitalisation, from the Financial Reporting Review Panel. The net effect has been to reduce 1991/92 pre-tax profits by pounds 402,000.

Pre-tax profits in 1992/93 also benefited from interest savings from the refinancing, which helped to reduce net interest payable from pounds 2.4m to pounds 1.8m. Earnings per share, reflecting the larger number of shares in issue, fell by 12.6 per cent to 16.6p.

During the year the number of beds owned by ANS increased from 1,054 to 1,245. It has another 372 beds under construction and a further 501 beds are planned by March 1995.

Because of cash constraints - gearing is 85 per cent - ANS will be operating almost all of the beds under construction or newly planned beds on the basis of joint ventures. It will earn fees for design and management, only participating in future profits.

ANS shares, which tumbled to a low point of 68p in June 1991, were unchanged at 219p.