Powerscreen leaps to final 25m pounds

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The Independent Online
SHARES in Powerscreen International jumped by more than 5 per cent yesterday on publication of a 35 per cent leap in pre-tax profits.

Profit before tax for the year to 31 March was pounds 25.3m. However, the improved figure included a pounds 3.3m profit on the sale of a subsidiary.

Underlying operating profits grew by 25 per cent to pounds 21.6m. Operating profit margins, however, slipped from 23.9 per cent to 22.6 per cent.

Powerscreen, based in Northern Ireland, makes mechanical crushing and recycling equipment. It produces machines that crush used concrete, bricks and tiles ready to be re-used in new building work, allowing it to shrug off the vicious recession in its core business, UK building and contracting.

The machines are popular among contractors because if used at building sites they can reduce raw material costs and are environmentally friendly. They also cut the haulage costs of taking waste away from a site and bringing new material in.

In the US, Powerscreen's Royer subsidiary contributed strongly to profits. It makes machinery that turns sewage into fertiliser. It has found a ready market because the US environmental leglislation is tough, restricting the dumping of human waste.

Powerscreen also found success in Germany, although it is growing from a small base. Profits from the Continent were helped by devaluation of the pound last autumn.

The company's experience in Britain was toughest. Shay McKeown, chairman, said: 'The North American market, and in particular Canada, is showing tangible improvements in the current year. The UK market is also showing signs of renewed activity.'

Shares closed up 17p at 337p. Earnings per share were 20.7p up from 16.3p. Powerscreen is paying a 4.8p final dividend, making a total for the year of 6.6p - an increase of 10 per cent.