Weir shows 15% rise in profits: Promising start to 1993 orders

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WEIR GROUP, the Glasgow engineering group, defied the recession, boosting profits almost 15 per cent to pounds 39.2m before tax in 1992, writes John Murray.

Ron Garrick, chief executive, said that 1993 had started promisingly, with order books running at more than pounds 400m on an annualised basis, against pounds 373m of orders last year.

Weir's main business is making pumps and valves for the oil, marine and water industries.

Group turnover was maintained at pounds 424m, although pounds 23m of that came from the acquisition of Peabody Floway, which turned in operating profits of just under pounds 2m.

Mr Garrick said that the changes in petroleum revenue tax announced in the Budget were likely to hit exploration in the North Sea, but that service contracts would keep Weir's oil operations busy.

Viscount Weir, chairman, pointed out that the group had delivered higher profits for 10 years in a row, but added that the economic background remained poor.

But he expected further growth this year, especially in the second half, aided by the price advantage gained by the devaluation of sterling.

Mr Garrick said the company was on the lookout for acquisitions, and that one was likely this year.

The group had net cash of more than pounds 50m at the year end, half of which was invested in 12-month fixed interest investments.

Earnings per share rose to 35.5p (32.1p) and the total dividend is 11.8p (10.5p). Weir also announced plans for a two-for-one share split. The shares closed a penny higher at 649p.