Howden Group marginally ahead: Company refuses to give divisional breakdown of operating profits

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The Independent Online
HOWDEN GROUP, the industrial fans and aerospace products group, increased taxable profits from pounds 18.1m to pounds 18.5m for the year to 3 May.

The results included a five-week profit contribution from Novenco, the Danish fans business acquired for pounds 22m in February.

However, the company refused to disclose the impact of Novenco and other acquisitions on last year's figures.

In addition, it did not provide a breakdown of profits at its four operating divisions nor would it say whether they raised or cut their contributions last year.

'It is the board's view that providing this information could be detrimental to the group's interests,' Alan Maclachlan, a director, said.

The results, prepared under the old-style accounting format, reflect a fall in interest charges from pounds 5.1m to pounds 2m thanks to a pounds 31.4m rights issue made by the company alongside its Danish purchase.

Since the year-end the company has acquired Buffalo Forge, a US fan maker, for pounds 25.5m.

The deal was financed with loan notes, and this has pushed net borrowings to about 25 per cent of shareholders' funds.

Howden estimated the total cash investment in the two businesses would be pounds 55m, of which pounds 40m was acquisition costs including the repayment of debt. The remainder related to the expected restructuring costs.

Last year the group incurred a pounds 2.5m exceptional charge for settling a long-running dispute over the supply of tunnel boring equipment for a twin rail tunnel project in Denmark. Cost overruns and losses on the contract had devastated the group's profits in 1991.

Earnings per share improved by 9 per cent to 6p. A final of 1.45p lifted the total payout by 10 per cent to 2.2p, while turnover rose from pounds 292m to pounds 335m.

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