Bardon profit held back by slump in US sales: Results of quarrying group disappoint despite recovery at home

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SLUMPING North American sales have contributed to disappointing interim profits from Bardon, the quarrying group, in the six months to June. The shares, which peaked at 142p in 1989, closed 1.5p lower at 43.5p.

The mid-Atlantic operations, acquired at the time of the 1991 merger with Evered, were hit by very bad weather in the first quarter. Spending on roads around Washington DC, the area served by its quarries, was also flat, wiping out the benefit of slightly higher volumes and prices.

The US disappointment, which led to the departure of the US operations chief executive, Stuart Lamb, meant operating profits rose only from pounds 9.2m to pounds 10.1m despite recovery in Britain.

Pre-tax profits were pounds 2.1m compared with a pounds 59.5m loss last year, when a pounds 60m provision was taken against the value of Bardon's marine dredging operation.

The dividend was maintained at 0.8p despite being uncovered by a 0.1p loss per share (16.2p loss).

Peter Tom, chief executive, said he had been surprised by the strength of the British construction recovery, with higher volumes of all products in Bardon's English markets. Scotland remained disappointing.

The dredging operation, which Bardon put on the market to reduce debts last year, was no longer for sale. Shipments to the buoyant London market rose 17 per cent, partly thanks to the start of work on the Jubilee Line extension. Sales to Europe were 9 per cent lower and prices stayed depressed.