Ocean remains cautious despite earnings recovery

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The Independent Online
Ocean Group, the transport and environmental services company, was cautious about prospects for this year despite recording a sharp recovery in profits in 1993, writes John Murray.

The group made pounds 44.1m before tax against pounds 16m, but the 1992 results included a pounds 16m write-off on the sale of its Panocean bulk liquid storage business.

The underlying profits growth was 9.2 per cent, with operating profits on continuing operations 18 per cent higher at pounds 48m.

Nicholas Barber, chief executive, said the group had benefited greatly from a large-scale restructuring at the beginning of the year that saw 500 jobs go. Ocean had provided pounds 8m for the rejig in its 1991 accounts. Mr Barber said the cost cuts had saved pounds 5m in 1993 and would be worth pounds 8m in a full year. Foreign exchange gains also boosted profits by pounds 4m.

Mr Barber said the outlook was mixed, with continuing recession in continental Europe affecting the distribution business and weak oil prices hurting the oil services division. 'We'll be pushed to repeat last year's performance, but on the bright side we will be looking for growth from our air freight business.'