pounds 1.5bn wiped off BTR shares after warning

BTR, the engineering to packaging conglomerate, yesterday saw pounds 1.5bn knocked off its market value after shattering investors' confidence with its fourth profit warning in three years. The group, which Ian Strachan, the new chief executive, has been struggling to revitalise since the beginning of last year, said the effect of sterling's strength in the first half would be to wipe pounds 35m from operating profits.

Although he said the impact would be lessened in the second six months of the year, he warned that the group's problems extended beyond currency to economic problems around the world, particularly in Germany and Australia which account for 30 per cent of sales.

Analysts immediately slashed profit forecasts for the current year by 10-15 per cent and the shares slumped 36.5p to close at 231p. Further pressure was piled on the stock as it became clear that one large investor had unloaded 80 million shares at well below the market price.

SBC Warburg is thought to have handled the placing in a bought deal, buying the stake at 215p a share and selling on at 219p. The bank refused to comment, other than to say it had been a two-way trader in the stock yesterday.

Geoff Allum, a conglomerates analyst at Henderson Crosthwaite, the stockbrokers, described the latest news as "pretty awful". He has sliced a tenth from his previous profits forecast, leaving a pre-tax figure of pounds 1.22bn for this year, and said the market had previously been prepared to give BTR the benefit of the doubt. The burden of proof had shifted to the company. "The market will now expect the worst."

Addressing shareholders at the company's annual meeting yesterday, Mr Strachan maintained that the restructuring strategy unveiled last year remained on track. The divestment programme was 80 per cent complete, acquisitions were in hand and over 50 restructuring projects were being pursued.

"It is ... my firm expectation that the underlying performance of the group's continuing businesses will improve steadily as our strategy is implemented, and that attractive returns will be generated in the years ahead."

BTR said its warning was based on trading in the first four months of the year, with the difficulties in Germany likely to spill over into the rest of Europe. Underlying sales, excluding currency effects, will be ahead in the first half, although operating profits will fall, with performance picking up again in the second half of 1997.

Parts of the automotive, power drives and process control equipment were among businesses mentioned as being affected by the problems in Germany and Australia.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
footballHe started just four months ago
News
Nigel Farage celebrates with a pint after early local election results in the Hoy and Helmet pub in South Benfleet in Essex
peopleHe has shaped British politics 'for good or ill'
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Travel
Streets ahead: Venice
travelWhat's trending on your wishlist?
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Equity | New York

Not specified: Selby Jennings: Quantitative Research | Global Equity | New Yor...

Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation

Not specified: Selby Jennings: SVP Model Validation This top tiered investment...

Selby Jennings: Oil Operations

Highly Competitive: Selby Jennings: Our client, a leading European Oil trading...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect