Epwin lifts dividend and prepares for acquisition

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The Independent Online
EPWIN, the PVC window maker, underlined its confidence in the end of the building recession by increasing its interim dividend and saying that it was preparing for its first acquisition in four years, writes Tom Stevenson.

Jim Rawson, chairman, said: 'We have obtained substantial volume increases in most of our UK markets and are gaining share. Thanks to our pounds 10m investment programme over the past two years we have outperformed the market.'

Unlike many of its competitors, Epwin invested in promotion and equipment throughout the recession. Yesterday's 10 per cent increase in the payout followed increases every year since flotation in 1987.

Mr Rawson said that, with net cash in the bank and an end to the capital expenditure programme in sight, Epwin was looking at a number of acquisition opportunities in building materials. He said he was prepared to take gearing up to 50 per cent, representing borrowings of pounds 10m.

Sales of windows, doors and conservatories jumped 20 per cent in the six months to June compared with an estimated 10 per cent rise in the market generally. Pre-tax profits were 34 per cent higher at pounds 1.75m and earnings, diluted by 1991's rights issue, rose 14 per cent to 5.7p.

In line with the rest of the buoyant building materials sector, Epwin shares have more than doubled since last September. Yesterday they closed unchanged at 275p.