Overseas companies push up Rugby Group's takings

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The Independent Online
A SHARP recovery in joinery in Britain and continued improvements in Australia and the US pushed profits at Rugby Group, the cement and building materials producer, up by 10.8 per cent to pounds 63.8m in 1993, writes Heather Connon.

The group also said it intends to launch a bonus issue, giving shareholders one share for every one held. That will increase the marketability of the shares, which yesterday closed 4p higher at 328p.

Sales rose 17.1 per cent to pounds 735.4m, helped by a pounds 13.2m contribution from acquisitions, mainly in the joinery business, which also added pounds 300,000 to profit. But Rugby suffered a pounds 1.2m loss on the disposal of its French glass business, after adjusting for pounds 4.9m of goodwill previously written off.

Geoffrey Higham, chairman, said the group would continue to look for acquisitions. Last year, it spent pounds 30m on capital investment and pounds 30m on purchases in the UK and Continental Europe. Despite that it ended the year with just pounds 4.8m of debt, compared with pounds 321.9m net assets. At the end of 1991, it had pounds 12.4m cash on the balance sheet.

Profits from its British businesses rose by a third to pounds 39.2m. The metal products business reversed a pounds 2m loss to make pounds 3.9m, while the joinery business increased by a fifth to pounds 17.6m. Profits from the cement operations rose from pounds 16.8m to pounds 17.7m, despite a slight drop in sales, but that was largely due to a pounds 1m pension credit.

Mr Higham said that although list prices were increased last year, the rises had little effect. Two weeks ago, it increased prices by about 4 per cent but Mr Higham said it was too early to say if that would stick.

Profits from the Australian joinery business doubled to pounds 3.3m while in Europe they were 38.9 per cent higher at pounds 5m.

Earnings per share were 14.5p, up from 13.1p, and the dividend is increased by 5 per cent to 6.77p, via a 3.92p (3.6p) final.