Forth Ports sees 33% increase in first results

FORTH PORTS produced a 33 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to pounds 10.9m in its first set of annual results since privatisation and flotation a year ago, writes John Murray.

But the company warned that trading would be tougher in the second half, because of reduced business from an important customer.

Hugh Thompson, chief executive, said British Pipe Coaters, which put 850,000 tonnes through Forth ports last year, expected to reach only 250,000 tonnes this year. 'BPC's tonnage had been very high over the past couple of years because of three large pipe contracts, but now it's coming back to a more normal level.'

He said that other customers would compensate to some extent. 'BPC's tonnage was down last year to 850,000 from 1.3 million in 1991 - and we still improved our figures.'

He added that the volume of coal put through the ports was affected by the uncertainty in the energy industry, but that grain, steel and animal feed were increasing.

The new Hounds Point II terminal, built in association with British Petroleum, would come on stream in the last quarter of this year, but would not make a significant contribution until 1994.

Overall turnover was static at pounds 32.4m - the profits rise came mainly from a gain on early payment of government loans, and the absence of a pounds 3m maintenance provision taken in 1991.

Forth shares rose 1p to 235p. The company was floated at 110p last March. Employees have 11 per cent of the equity.

The dividend of 6.25p compares with 5.5p promised in the prospectus.

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