Wace pays dividend after doubled profits

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The Independent Online
WACE Group, the pre-press printing group, has doubled its taxable profits to pounds 7m for the half-year to 30 June, writes Neil Thapar.

The result, better than market estimates, was achieved on an underlying decline in turnover from pounds 156m to pounds 152m. After passing last year's final payout, it is returning to the dividend list with an interim payout of 1p, against 2.25p last year.

Earnings per share amounted to 4.1p against a loss of 0.2p last year.

The profit improvement stemmed from drastic cost-cutting carried out under Trevor Grice, who replaced John Clegg as chief executive last November.

After Mr Clegg's resignation the Department of Trade began an investigation, which is still continuing, into share dealings conducted in the name of some of Mr Clegg's relatives.

Trading profits in Britain rose from pounds 4.3m to pounds 6m on marginally lower turnover, reflecting an improved performance at Wace's print and pre- press operations. US profits declined from pounds 3.6m to pounds 3.2m while Europe was virtually unchanged at pounds 2.1m.

Helped by disposals, the company generated pounds 21m cash from operating activities. Net debts fell by pounds 4.4m to pounds 84.3m, compared with shareholders' funds of pounds 48.5m.

City analysts predict the company will make taxable profits of about pounds 15m for the full year, against a pounds 28m loss in 1992.