Hanson profit up 4.4% as US economy stirs

HANSON, the Anglo-American conglomerate, yesterday reported stirrings of recovery in the US, but said Britain remained depressed, as it announced a 4.4 per cent increase in pre-tax profits in its first quarter.

Martin Taylor, vice-chairman, said the improvement in the US was demonstrated at Cavenham, its forest products business, which is benefiting from higher prices for timber. Its customers are mainly in construction, so it should be a good lead indicator for other industries, he said.

He added that last month's decision by Du Pont, the chemicals company, to end price discounting of titanium dioxide - where it is market leader - suggested stabilisation of prices, which should benefit SCM, its chemicals arm.

President Bill Clinton is expected to announce increased spending on the infrastructure when he makes his State of the Union address tonight, which could benefit Grove, the crane business, and Beazer, the aggregates supplier that Hanson acquired in 1991. But he is also warning of increased corporate taxes.

Hanson's tax rate rose from 18 per cent to 27.5 per cent as the windfall benefits achieved by switching to quarterly dividends ended, and it is expected to remain at about that rate. That meant earnings per share fell 10 per cent to 3.5p.

Profits before tax for the three months to December were pounds 236m, up from pounds 226m, on sales 10 per cent ahead at pounds 2.3bn. Lord Hanson, the chairman, said the decline in margins had been expected.

The advance was due to a pounds 20m profit on the sale of Weber Aircraft, which is taken into pre-tax profits under new accounting rules. But the previous year's figures also benefited from an pounds 11m contribution from EverReady, and other businesses that have since been sold.

Lord Hanson said it was too early to talk of signs of recovery in Britain, 'although lower UK interest rates should certainly spark increasing economic activity over time'. Some British businesses had a better quarter - including Imperial Tobacco, the cigarette maker - but this was not recovery-driven.

Hanson's borrowings - pounds 774m at the end of September - are mainly in US dollars and the weakness of sterling means they have risen to about 30 per cent of shareholders' funds, compared with 18 per cent at the last year- end.

The quarterly dividend is 2.85p and will continue at that level until further notice.

The results were in line with the City's expectations, although the shares fell with the market to close 4p lower at 250p.

NatWest Securities is forecasting pounds 1.17bn profits for the full year, down from pounds 1.29bn, and a fall in earnings from 22.2p to 17.5p a share.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
booksPhotographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years - but he says it wasn’t all fun and games...
News
i100
Sport
Aguero - who single-handedly has kept City's Champions League dreams alive - celebrates his dramatic late winner
footballManchester City 3 Bayern Munich 2: Argentine's late hat-rick sees home side snatch vital victory
News
Muhammad Ali pictured in better health in 2006
peopleBut he has enjoyed publicity from his alleged near-death experience
Arts and Entertainment
Tony breaks into Ian Garrett's yacht and makes a shocking discovery
TVReview: Revelations continue to make this drama a tough watch
News
news
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
peopleSinger tells The Independent what life is like in rehab in an exclusive video interview
News
The assumption that women are not as competent in leadership positions as men are leads to increased stress in the workplace
science... and it's down to gender stereotypes
Arts and Entertainment
Inner sanctum: Tove Jansson and friends in her studio in 1992
booksWhat was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Singer songwriter Bob Dylan performs on stage
films
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Citifocus Ltd: Product Development - Asset Management

£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with significant product d...

Citifocus Ltd: Credit Ratings - Banking Sector

£Negotiable: Citifocus Ltd: Leading global bank seeks experienced credit analy...

Citifocus Ltd: Economic Crime Investigation & Analysis

£Attractive Package: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with a high degree...

Citifocus Ltd: Snr Risk Analyst - Capital & Liquidity

£Attractive: Citifocus Ltd: High calibre individual with superior academics an...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital