UK holds back ASH interims

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The Independent Online
THE CHAIRMAN of Automated Security Holdings warned yesterday that the poorly performing UK division could weaken the whole group if trading conditions continued to deteriorate. Earlier, ASH reported figures below market expectations, writes Topaz Amoore.

Tom Buffett said the US continued to improve but the UK had contributed about pounds 1m less than expected to group operating profits, which fell pounds 1.5m to pounds 10.8m in the six months to 31 May.

'We were under in the first half, but should trade to budget in the rest of the year. Current trading is up and the second half is traditionally stronger. Costs are still being stripped out.'

He said Telecom Security, bought in February for pounds 6.5m, should bring in about pounds 1.5m in operating profits on an annualised basis.

Group turnover excluding acquisitions was up 15 per cent to pounds 74.3m. A 44 per cent increase to pounds 7.1m in pre-tax profits was largely attributable to an interest bill down pounds 5.7m at pounds 3.1m, and one-off restructuring costs that came to pounds 1m, against pounds 4m last time.

ASH has reversed the relative size of its dividend, paying 3.05p - the equivalent of the final dividend - as its interim. Shareholders are offered a scrip dividend alternative to the value of 4.58p.

The shares rose 1 2 p to 174p.

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