Scapa picks up French firm and lifts earnings

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SCAPA Group, the industrial materials company, yesterday combined a 10 per cent increase in profits with news of a pounds 20m acquisition in France, writes Robert Cole.

It is paying Fr121m ( pounds 14m) for Barnier, a maker of adhesive tape, and assuming another pounds 6m of the French company's debt. Barnier made pounds 2m of taxable profits in 1992.

Scapa's pre-tax profits for the six months to 30 September rose to pounds 22m from pounds 20m. Turnover climbed 19 per cent to pounds 187m.

Scapa earns four-fifths of its profits overseas and has received a significant fillip from the devaluation of sterling, although it would not say how much.

Much of Scapa's business is in the supply of consumable components like roller coverings for paper makers.

Harry Tuley, chairman, said: 'We do not see any major change in operating conditions during the second half.' Earnings per share rose to 6.1p from 5.7p and the interim dividend was lifted to 1.56p from 1.6p.

During the six months debt increased to pounds 70m from pounds 51m, taking gearing to 30 per cent. The interest bill grew to pounds 3.4m from pounds 1.7m. After paying for Barnier gearing will rise to nearly 40 per cent.

The shares rose 2p yesterday to close at 218p.