Excalibur recovers from trinket troubles

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EXCALIBUR, the jewellery, giftware and engineering group, has returned to profit for the six months to 31 October, writes Robert Cole.

Taxable profits were pounds 1.03m compared with losses of pounds 183,000 in the first half of last year. Excalibur lost pounds 6.6m last year as it provided pounds 5.8m against the poorly performing jewellery business.

Despite the provisions, Excalibur lost money in jewellery at the interim stage. However, the operating loss was reduced from pounds 1.1m to pounds 5,000.

After its problems with producing jewellery - gold trinkets - Excalibur is concentrating its efforts on engineering, where it makes components for aero-engines. The contribution from engineering fell at the halfway stage as it made pounds 937,000 compared with pounds 1.2m. Turnover fell too so the profit margin was maintained.

Michael Griffiths, chairman, said the sales downturn in engineering was short-term as customers ran down stocks during a move to just- in-time ordering. 'We have lived through that and orders are beginning to build again,' he said.

Earnings per share were 1.5p compared with a loss per share of 0.6p. The interim dividend was raised from 0.2p to 0.25p. The shares, which fell from 90p in 1989 to 8.5p last January, rose 6.5p yesterday to 42p.