Mixed fortunes for IMI divisions

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The Independent Online
A RECORD performance from IMI's drinks dispensing division, where profits rose by 25 per cent, could not prevent a 7 per cent fall in pre-tax profits at the worldwide industrial group.

Profits for 1992 fell to pounds 68m as operating profits dropped by 24 per cent in the fluid power division and IMI Titanium failed to return to a break-even point. Analysts had expected worse, however, and the shares ended the day up 11p at 270p.

Some 1,100 jobs have been lost across the group in the year. IMI spent pounds 5.5m on reducing stocks and a major restructuring programme in the fluid power division and expects to spend half that again in 1993.

'It has been a particularly difficult year,' said Gary Allen, chief executive. 'Margins were under pressure but we don't think we lost market share. We have had to have our pencils very sharp.'

The drinks dispensing division, which makes 80 per cent of its sales overseas, benefited from campaigns by Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola to increase consumption of soft drinks outside the US.

Operating profits in building products went up by pounds 900,000 despite the depressed state of the housing market. Strong demand for copper tube and fittings continued in Germany.

The exact losses in titanium have never been revealed, but Mr Allen agreed yesterday that they were reasonably significant, although they had lessened. He hoped to see titanium out of losses by the second half of 1993.

IMI had borrowings of pounds 100m at the year-end and gearing of 26 per cent. Capital expenditure came to pounds 54m and IMI spent pounds 20m on acquisitions.

Earnings per share were 13.6p against 15p last time. The final dividend of 5.8p gives an unchanged total of 10p.