Lopex returns to the black with pounds 210,000

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LOPEX, the communications group whose core UK markets in advertising and marketing have been badly affected by the recession, returned to profit in 1992 after reducing its interest bill with the proceeds of February's pounds 3.5m rights issue, writes Topaz Amoore.

The group made pre-tax profits of pounds 210,000 in the year to 31 December 1992, against a loss of pounds 398,000. Shareholders were warned that there would be no dividend, but Lopex said it planned to pay a final dividend at the end of 1993.

The interest charge in the year to 31 December fell from pounds 1.5m to pounds 693,000. Lord Marsh, chairman, said that strengthening the balance sheet was essential for survival because of the large borrowings and potential earnouts that had been built up in the 1980s.

He added that Lopex's diversified interests had protected it from the recession, where a number of its specialist competitors had been forced out of business

Redundancy costs fell, even though a further 15 per cent of its employees lost their jobs, leaving Lopex with a workforce of just over 1,000. In 1991, a pounds 1.5m exceptional item covered redundancies. Last year that figure fell to pounds 594,000, and this was partially offset by a pounds 421,000 reorganisation provision.

An extraordinary charge of pounds 548m related to the discontinued operations that accounted for much of a 29 per cent drop in turnover to pounds 146m. The decline in turnover was only 6 per cent if those operations were eliminated, Lord Marsh said.

The shares rose 2p to 25p.