Coal strike depresses Hanson

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The Independent Online
A pounds 67m bill for the US Peabody coal strike and an pounds 87m turnaround on net interest costs combined to lower first-quarter pre-tax profits at Hanson, the conglomerate, from pounds 236m to pounds 173m in the three months to 31 December, writes Terence Wilkinson.

Before the coal strike effect and turnaround on interest costs, profits - excluding exceptional items, up from pounds 20m to pounds 68m - rose from pounds 187m to pounds 230m.

This figure included a pounds 25m contribution from Quantum, Hanson's recent US chemicals acquisition, before financing costs, which analysts estimate at pounds 20m.

Turnover rose from pounds 2.3bn to pounds 2.9bn. Exceptional profits arose mainly from the sale of Axelson and other companies, offset by provisions against Shanks & McEwan. Hanson reported earnings of 2.5p against 3.5p. It is proposing to pay a maintained first quarter dividend of 2.85p.

Hanson shares closed unchanged at 283.5p.

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