Stripping out a pounds 4.5m loss at the non-core software side (which is now breaking even) and adding back a one-off pounds 1.5m hit for the sale of one of its constituent companies, sustainable profits were really pounds 76m, a 12 per cent increase.
With Continental Europe in the doldrums and the UK flat, that is testimony to IMI's cost-cutting, its continued investment and market share improvements. It also makes the more optimistic analysts' forecasts of about pounds 90m pre- tax profits this year plausible.
Those estimates assume more of the same from building products, where a pounds 30m capital expenditure programme helped IMI refiners and Yorkshire Copper Tube to swing from loss to profit and contribute to a 23 per cent profits rise.
Drinks dispensing, which maintained the momentum after last year's 25 per cent profits jump, will inject some fizz after being named Coca-Cola's supplier of choice. Titanium is expected to return to profits this year.
The joker in the pack is Continental Europe, where profits last year fell 31 per cent, wiping out a similar rise in the home market. Building products will continue to benefit from a heavy refurbishment programme in Germany, but the rest looks much more sickly.
With that caveat in mind, forecasts of pounds 84m pre-tax and earnings per share of 16.6p look realistic. A prospective p/e of 21 puts the shares, up 7p to 347p, at a 22 per cent premium to the rest of the market. Despite the considerable recovery potential in many of IMI's markets, that is asking a lot.Reuse content