Usborne is back in the black with pounds 1.6m profit

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The Independent Online
USBORNE, the grain trader and pig breeder chaired by Lord Parkinson, the former Cabinet minister, has moved back into the black, writes Robert Cole.

The company made taxable profits of pounds 1.6m for the 18 months to 30 June, compared with losses of pounds 4.4m for the year to 31 December 1991. Usborne's operating profit from continuing businesses rose to pounds 3.6m, up from pounds 1.2m. Even after adjustment for the longer trading period just passed, the increase was 100 per cent.

The company said it had been helped by sterling's devaluation on leaving the European exchange rate mechanism. It also drew benefit from higher-than-average pig meat prices in early 1992.

The main reason for Usborne's loss in 1991 was a pounds 6m charge writing down the value of property. Pre-tax profits for the 18 months to last June suffered from further property write-downs of pounds 1.5m.

A pension fund surplus on a scheme set up in 1965 for the sole benefit of David Frame, the chief executive, also helped profits.

For tax reasons, the surplus has been crystallised into cash, and the company received pounds 721,000. Mr Frame qualifies for a pension roughly equivalent to two-thirds of his final salary, but does not personally share in the fund surplus. Mr Frame and family control 40 per cent of the company's shares.

Earnings per share for the 18 months were 2.2p, compared with losses of 5.8p. Usborne is paying total dividends of 0.8p, (0.4p). The shares rose 2p yesterday to 22.5p.