ASH lifts dividend despite profit fall

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The Independent Online
AUTOMATED Security Holdings, the burglar alarm company, has lifted its dividend by 9 per cent despite a 53 per cent drop in taxable profits, writes Robert Cole.

ASH justified the payout because it has cleared debt with the recent sale of its electronic tagging business to Sensormatic of the US for pounds 150m.

Results for the six months to 31 May show a pounds 6.5m pre-tax profit compared with pounds 13.9m last time. Trading profit fell, but ASH also took pounds 4m of reorganisation costs - mainly redundancy payments - above the line.

The 2.25p dividend, up from 2.1p, is uncovered by earnings per share of 1.9p.

However, ASH gave an alternative interim profit and loss account to show what would have happened had the pounds 150m sale gone through at the start rather than the end of the interim period.

The alternative figures, which benefit from an interest credit of pounds 7.5m rather than a cost of pounds 8.9m, produce an earnings per share figure that does cover the dividend.

The disposal cuts turnover and profits by one-third. However Tom Buffett, chairman, said he was confident that the company's remaining markets are growing.