John Foley, managing director, said: 'We have had a terrible year with a thumping loss at our curtain walling business, Hinchcliffe (which has since been sold). But putting the troubles aside, underlying trading at our core power and automotive businesses has been strong.'
He said that but for a pounds 9m exceptional charge, profits for the year would have been about pounds 6m compared with pounds 7.1m in the year to March 1993. The figures include a pounds 1m property profit from the sale and leaseback of a Sterling International plant.
More than half the exceptional charge was represented by a provision against trading losses and a loss on the disposal of Hinchcliffe, sold to Norcros in February.
An undisclosed part of the remainder related to the costs of making management changes in the small engineering division following a review of its businesses.
The balance of the write-down covered provisions for claims and liabilities on previous disposals and the cost of disruptions caused by installing new plant in the power division.
A year ago Triplex raised pounds 17.3m in a rights issue at 140p to part fund a pounds 20m investment programme in the company's two core divisions, automotive components and castings for turbines and the petrochemical industry.
Mr Foley said at the time: 'Our customers in both the automotive and power sectors are much bigger than we are and they are looking to deal with a smaller number of suppliers.'
The company's dependence on a few large orders was reflected in a delay to a large contract for Paralloy, its high alloy tubing business, which hit second-half profits. The order, which had been expected in January or February, will now fall into the current year.
Borrowings of pounds 25m at the year- end will be in line with expectations but because of the fall in net assets due to the exceptional charge, gearing will be higher than forecast at 55 per cent.
The reversal into losses follows three years of flat profits and an unchanged dividend since 1990. In the first half-year to September Triplex's profits fell 56 per cent to pounds 1.45m.Reuse content