Pre-tax profits for the half-year to 30 September dropped 22.5 per cent to pounds 41.1m because last year's figures had to be restated to comply with the FRS3 accounting standard.
An pounds 11.1m gain on the disposal of a subsidiary, taken as an extraordinary credit below the line last year, was restated as an exceptional item above the pre-tax profit line. Operating profits were flat at pounds 42.8m ( pounds 42.5m). Chris Masters, chief executive, said the results were reasonable given the economic climate.
'We're not complacent, but almost without exception, trading around the world is difficult,' he said.
He pointed out that the figures were also distorted by the exceptionally good performance of the power hire division in the first half last year, as a result of contracts to supply the Barcelona Olympics.
Operating profits in the specialist hire division fell pounds 400,000 to pounds 15m despite a strong performance from Aggreko, the power hire company, in the US and South-east Asia.
Trading conditions were difficult in Europe and problems continued at Light and Sound Design, the outdoor events company, where profits fell by pounds 1m. Dr Masters said the business had been too narrowly focused and that a new managemnt team had been installed.
Operating profits from Salvesen's biggest division, distribution, were 7.1 per cent ahead at pounds 7.1m, helped by a particularly strong performance in the US.
The poor summer took its toll on the food processing division, where volumes fell 10 per cent. Operating profits dropped by just under pounds 1m to pounds 7.5m.
Dr Masters said Salvesen's brick- manufacturing company was producing a strong rise in sales in the second half after a flat first half. Operating profits were pounds 1.5m.
The interim dividend rises 3.1 per cent to 3.3p on earnings per share down to 10.29p (14.03p). The shares fell 17p to 331p.
Dr Masters said that although he saw no vast improvement in trading in the short term, he was happy with Salvesen's mix of businesses. He added that Swift Distribution, the industrial distribution company acquired since the half-year end, would make a positive contribution in the second half.