THE INVESTMENT COLUMN: Siebe engineers a leap in profits

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The Independent Online
Few companies in the UK are as exposed to the damage being inflicted by strength of sterling as the Siebe engineering group, which draws an astonishing 90 per cent plus of its profits from overseas.

So, even after allowing for some help from acquisitions, yesterday's announcement that profits for the year to 5 April were above the top end of City expectations with a 28 per cent leap to pounds 424m was a creditable performance given the pounds 17m hit from translation to sterling.

The company improved margins significantly with the profits improvement achieved on a 20 per cent increase in sales, which just crept over pounds 3bn. Organic profit growth was 19.3 per cent, and both sales and profit growth would have been 5 points higher but for the strength of sterling.

Margins in the control systems division improved from 15.8 per cent to 17 per cent and from 14.6 per cent to 16.3 per cent in temperature and appliance controls, although industrial equipment division only managed to improve from 11 per cent to 11.3 per cent.

Analysts have edged up profit forecasts for the current year to around pounds 480m, which implies 58.9p of earnings compared with last year's 54.1p.

However, the shares, up 10p to 961.5p yesterday, sport an expensive rating of 16.3 times earnings in light of the strong pound, which did not really impact on results until the closing months of last year.