Ocean is swamped by large loss

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The Independent Online
OCEAN GROUP, the freight, environmental and marine services company, announced a 20 per cent fall in underlying pre-tax profits and warned that it expected 'no material improvement in market demand this year'.

Reported profits were hit by a pounds 16m loss on the disposal of Panocean, a bulk liquid storage company, to Pakhoed of the Netherlands. After a further pounds 8.4m charge to cover redundancies and the transfer of Ocean's head office from London to Bracknell, Berkshire, pre-tax profits were pounds 16m against pounds 51m last year.

Marine services were hardest hit, with the division failing to match the record performance of 1991. A slowdown in oil industry support operations led to a reduction in profits from pounds 30.9m to pounds 24.1m.

Freight and distribution held up in the face of continued economic weakness in North America but the division's contribution slipped from pounds 17.2m to pounds 16m.

Environmental services, which provides analytical testing and waste services, was the only division to increase profits, from pounds 3.3m to pounds 4m.

Earnings per share, including the exceptional loss, fell from 24.6p to 2p. A final dividend of 9.62p makes an unchanged total for the year of 14.33p. The shares added 2p to 283p.