Spirax-Sarco steams ahead to pounds 10.5m in first half

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SPIRAX-SARCO, the world's largest manufacturer of equipment for controlling steam, is continuing to lift profits thanks to a wide spread of customers - both by geography and type - and a steady stream of new products.

Interim pre-tax profit rose by 11 per cent to pounds 10.5m in the six months to 30 June, from pounds 9.4m in the corresponding period of 1991. Turnover increased by 7 per cent to pounds 81.4m, up from pounds 76.4m.

Chris Tappin, chairman, attributed what he described as 'a good set of results in the context of difficult trading conditions' partly to the varied base of about 100,000 customers worldwide.

Pre-tax profits were also boosted by a fall in the interest charge from pounds 1.3m to pounds 800,000, thanks to strong cash-flow.

Despite the results, Spirax left the dividend unchanged at 2.7p. Any increase would be left to year- end, Mr Tappin said. Earnings per share rose from 7.4p to 7.8p.

The group's increase in profits masked a diverse performance, with improvements in the UK, Germany, the Far East, and South America, while profit levels remained flat in France and North America.

The UK's performance in the face of recession was thanks to new products. Germany, on the other hand, benefited from increased demand in the east.

Mr Tappin said sterling's weakness would do little to boost profits this year, but, if it continued, should help in 1993. About half of the company's turnover is in dollar-related currencies, while more than 25 per cent of overseas turnover is made in the UK.

The shares rose 2p to 276p.