Recovery at Lamont boosts shares

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SHARES in Lamont Holdings, the Belfast-based carpets and upholstery textiles group, rose 11p yesterday after a 73 per cent jump in profits confirmed the company's recovery, writes Robert Cole.

Lamont made pounds 12.2m before tax in 1993. Its shares advanced to 433p and are now 125p higher than 12 months ago, having outperformed the stock market average by 20 per cent.

Some of the increase in profit was derived from an uplift in volumes, but Lamont also widened profit margins. Total sales rose from pounds 115m to pounds 132m and profit margins were 9 per cent against 6 per cent. The company said the profit advance was largely due to recovery in non-carpet business.

Lamont bought two fabric dying companies - Alexander Drew in 1992 and Cunningham Johnson last year - and said it was reaping the rewards of action taken since the companies were assimilated.

Lamont's chief executive is the former British Lions and Ireland rugby international Dick Milliken. His chairman, Sir Desmond Lorimer, said: 'Time will probably dictate that 1993 may be regarded as one of the the most vital, active and exciting periods in the company's history. Not only did we return to more acceptable profit levels but we solved a number of our ongoing problems.'

Earnings per share jumped 60 per cent to 25.6p compared with 16.1p. The dividend was increased more modestly as the company restored the level of earnings cover - up 4 per cent to 12.5p, extending cover from 1.3 to two times.