William Baird holds cash as profits rise

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The Independent Online
WILLIAM BAIRD, the textiles and engineering group, saw earnings per share fall 6.3 per cent in the half-year to 30 June, despite pre-tax profits rising 8.4 per cent to pounds 10m, writes John Murray.

Turnover rose 1.5 per cent to pounds 243m, but the company has still to make use of pounds 39m from a rights issue last May, which has diluted earnings. Andrew Mills-Baker, finance director, said Baird had expected the recession to lift, but there was no sign of that and the company would not rush to buy.

'We're inundated with offers, but we apply very stringent criteria, and we still have a lot of capacity for organic growth,' he said.

Mr Mills-Baker warned that Baird would write off about pounds 3m in exceptional costs for the full year, connected with the sale of some engineering businesses and the closure of a textiles factory.

The interim dividend is maintained at 3.55p.