The Investment Column: Britax

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The Independent Online
THREE YEARS ago Britax International, which makes children's car seats and aircraft fittings, set itself the target of doubling earnings per share to 15.4p by 2001.

Half-year figures out yesterday show the group on track. The company's businesses - aircraft interiors, automotive components and car safety systems - all performed well in the first half, lifting pre-exceptional pre-tax profits up 21 per cent to pounds 32.5m.

The big story was aircraft interiors, Britax's largest earner, where turnover leapt 42 per cent to pounds 106m. While Britax claims market-leader status for all its businesses already, it still sees growth potential.

Following a recent strategic review, it has ruled out further diversification. The group raised pounds 88m from the sale of its vehicle leasing business in August last year, but is still available for further acquisitions following the purchases in the US. Chief executive Richard Marton is negotiating a deal in Asia.

The only downside, Mr Marton says, is the US. But while the aerospace industry there faces a possible cyclical downturn, Britax is enjoying strong demand from Airbus.

Analysts expect pre-tax profits of pounds 60m this year, with earnings of 11.9p per share. Upgrades are possible if Britax's aircraft division continues to beat expectations. The shares, up 1p at 147p, are good value.