Benson puts back interim dividend

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BENSON GROUP, the Midlands engineering company, has reinforced its return to health, announcing a 41 per cent rise in earnings per share for the six months to 30 November, writes John Murray.

The company has also restored the interim dividend, paying 0.1p, equal to the final last year.

Pre-tax profits rose 263 per cent to pounds 817,000, boosted by acquisitions. Richard Phillips, the chairman who was put in to rescue the business in 1990, said: 'The performance has been achieved despite a background of weak demand and price pressures.

'Progress has been made by heavy emphasis on cost reduction, fairly fierce cash management, winning new business and making earnings-enhancing acquisitions.'

The average trading margin rose from 6.2 to 8.7 per cent. The shares fell 3p to 22 1/2p on concern about exposure to bad debt at Leyland DAF. The company said the maximum loss would be pounds 100,000 and the house broker, BZW, marked its full-year forecast down pounds 100,000 to pounds 2.4m.