Brent shares hit by slice in dividend

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The Independent Online
A DIVIDEND cut yesterday took shares in Brent International, the speciality chemicals group, down 15.5p to 105p, writes Diane Coyle. The group has reduced the 1993 payout to 4p from 7.4p the previous year. Pre-tax profits fell from pounds 7.8m to pounds 3.2m on almost static turnover and earnings per share tumbled from 100p to 3.2p.

Keith Hutchings, chief executive since August, said: 'We will move to bring dividends back up in line with group profitability.'

Disposals brought profits of pounds 7m but a restructuring cost pounds 3.9m, including management changes and about 100 redundancies. Mr Hutchings said the process was almost complete.

Brent has sold its electronics businesses and streamlined into two core divisions - industrial and printing services. Trading conditions for both had been difficult. Continental Europe, which accounts for two-fifths of sales, is still 'bumping along', but North America and the UK may be reviving.

Jeremy Chantry, an analyst at Kleinwort Benson, said: 'Brent has put in place a lot of changes that should bear fruit, but the dividend is disappointing.'