Vosper dips despite profit: Employees at shipyard see value of share option decline

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The Independent Online
WORKERS at the Vosper Thornycroft shipyard in Southampton yesterday saw the value of a share options windfall drop even though the company reported a 10 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to pounds 9.1m and an increased dividend for the first half of the year.

Last month 670 employees who bought shares at 171p were looking at a profit of more than pounds 2.5m, or pounds 4,000 each, when the scheme matured with the shares at 680p. Yesterday, however, the shares fell a further 2p to close at 646p.

Peter Usher, the chairman, noted, however, that the value of the shares had still nearly quadrupled since the launch of the scheme in 1988. 'We are pleased that over half our employees still hold shares or options,' he added.

Vosper's order book stands at pounds 600m, 95 per cent of which is overseas, and the yard is hoping to secure at least one further order in the next two months. The Ministry of Defence is expected to invite tenders for a Royal Navy minehunter contract worth up to pounds 350m while the Kuwaitis are due to decide soon whether to award a pounds 200m to pounds 300m order for eight patrol craft to Vosper or to a French yard.

The pounds 600m in orders, largely accounted for by two big contracts with Oman and Qatar for corvettes and patrol craft, will keep the yard busy for three years.

But Vosper is anxious to win the minehunter order to help with potential export contracts.

The cash balance at 30 September was pounds 137m, of which pounds 60m is Vosper's and the rest customer advances, resulting in a marginal increase in interest received to pounds 3.87m. The interim dividend was raised by 13 per cent to 5.3p.

(Photograph omitted)