Blenheim Group wary despite pounds 45m profit

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The Independent Online
BLENHEIM Group, the international exhibition organiser, increased pre-tax profits in 1993 to pounds 45.2m against a pro-forma pounds 15.5m for 1992, but remains cautious about the future, writes Susie Pine-Coffin.

Neville Buch, chairman, said the quality of the group's underlying business, together with continuing efforts to cut its cost base, should ensure it was well placed to benefit when the countries in which it operated, especially France, returned fully to economic health.

The 1992 figures have been restated to reflect a switch from year- end to weighted average exchange rates.

Pro forma figures have also been given since last year the company changed its year end from December to August to reflect seasonal fluctuations in its business.

Turnover rose 29 per cent to pounds 198.7m against a pro forma pounds 153.3m. Operating profits on the same basis were pounds 50.2m ( pounds 33.3m) and pre-tax profits pounds 45.2m ( pounds 15.5m). The 1992 figures include a charge of pounds 11.7m in respect of the loss on termination of Blenheim's Swiss and Belgian businesses.

Mr Buch admitted that last year the company had failed to fully appreciate the impact of the worldwide recession on its business.

'We need to rebuild our credibility in the City and take a low-key back-to-basics approach which will be demonstrated by our future profits,' he said. 'There are no short cuts.' There were no immediate plans for any more acquisitions, he said.

Richard Dale, an analyst with Smith New Court, said half Blenheim's revenues depended on the French market. The poor performance of the French economy meant profits remained uncertain.

The dividend is 10.25p (9p). The results were in line with expectations. The share price fell 5p to 343p.