P-E passes payout as profits plunge

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The Independent Online
P-E International, the computer consultancy group, announced pre-tax profits 90 per cent down at pounds 160,000 and passed its final dividend. A loss in the second half, after a pounds 514,000 interim pre-tax profit, surprised the market and the shares were marked down 8p to 50p, writes Tom Stevenson.

The chairman, George Cox, said: 'The level of profits was clearly not what the company would like to have achieved. The widely predicted recovery in the economy did not materialise and the confidence following the general election quickly evaporated.'

P-E, which supplies contract computer staff as well as offering IT consultancy, made pre-tax profits of pounds 5.6m in 1989. Since then demand has dropped off sharply while costs, principally staff, have remained high as the company chased business.

Turnover was 3 per cent higher at pounds 71.1m, including a full-year contribution from 1991's consultancy acquisition, Handley Walker. Higher sales, however, were only achieved at the expense of selling and administration costs 19 per cent higher at pounds 19.8m. There was a loss per share of 0.22p compared with earnings of 4.9p.

During the year three loss-making businesses were either sold or closed down. The company said other areas, including a Dutch subsidiary that lost pounds 394,000 last year, were under review.

The passed final dividend leaves the halved interim of 1p as the total for the year.