Continental car makers lift Laird

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HIGHER sales of parts to Continental car makers drove profits ahead 70 per cent at Laird Group, the automotive and building products company, writes John Murray.

The group made pounds 36.2m before tax in 1992 against pounds 21.3m the previous year. Charles Barton, finance director, said the recovery was largely down to better results from the car body seal business in Germany.

The sealing systems divisions saw profits before interest and tax jump from pounds 13.8m to pounds 23m. The group had invested heavily in the business and capital spending in 1992 rose pounds 10m to pounds 33m.

But Mr Barton warned that the gathering recession in Germany had led to tougher trading conditions in the first quarter of this year.

'However, the smaller cars such as the Volkwagen Golf and the Vauxhall Astra that we supply will probably be affected much less than other more expensive models,' he said.

'Also, the French market is holding up very well and we are making considerable progress in our UK building materials businesses.

'We are also seeing the benefits of the investment in Fullarton in Scotland, which is now one of the biggest suppliers of components to the European computer industry.'

Group turnover rose to pounds 601m from pounds 524m. Earnings per share were 18.7p (12.3p). The dividend rises to 10.5p (10.2p) and the final has been paid as a second interim.

The shares fell 4p to 278p.