Pifco cooking up a deal in Europe

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The Independent Online
PIFCO, the small domestic appliance maker, hopes to make an acquisition in Europe before the end of the year. The deal, to be financed by a rights issue, will be accompanied by the enfranchisement of Pifco's limited- voting 'A' shares.

Michael Webber, chairman, said the purchase would keep the focus of the group in small appliances. Pifco already owns the Carmen and Salton brands, and three years ago added the loss-making Russell Hobbs to the portfolio.

He said the turnaround of Russell, the kettle and toaster maker bought from Polly Peck's administrators, was largely complete and had contributed to an improvement in margins from 5.5 to 6.8 per cent in the year to April. Pre- tax profits jumped 21 per cent to pounds 2.7m despite declining sales.

Exports remained at 24 per cent of total sales, despite the company's aim of achieving a 50/50 split between home and overseas turnover.

After a 5 per cent tax charge, reflecting the benefit of overseas earnings and tax losses at Russell Hobbs, earnings per share were 20 per cent higher at 15.4p. The interim dividend was increased 9 per cent to 4.5p.

Pifco's shares, which have more than tripled in value over the past five years, closed 10p higher at 358p.

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