Cost-cutting at Pillar gives lift to Caradon

CARADON, owner of the MK plugs and Mira shower brands, celebrated its first interim figures since last year's pounds 800m acquisition of Pillar from RTZ with a 53 per cent jump in trading profits and a 7 per cent dividend increase, writes Tom Stevenson.

The improvement at the building products group came despite a slump in sales and profits at its US cheque printing operation, where prices have fallen sharply.

Cost-cutting at Pillar drove the profits rise, with margins at the newly-acquired businesses rising from 5 to 8.3 per cent.

Peter Jansen, chief executive, said the integration of Pillar had more than matched expectations. But he warned that UK building products businesses had not yet benefited from recovery.

Underlying profits, excluding a pounds 100m exceptional profit last year from the sale of Caradon's stake in the French printer Carnaud MetalBox, increased from pounds 56.4m to pounds 94.4m. Reported pre-tax profits including the sale fell from pounds 152.8m to pounds 90.8m.

Underlying earnings per share rose from 6.8p to 8.9p and the dividend was increased from 2.71p to 2.9p.

The shares, down from 448p since the beginning of the year, closed 11p higher at 298p.

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