Yorkshire shares hit by fears of slack demand

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The Independent Online
YORKSHIRE Chemicals, the colours and speciality materials group, warned yesterday that significant improvement in worldwide demand was unlikely this year, writes Neil Thapar.

The company reported a 17 per cent rise in taxable profits to pounds 6m for the half-year to 30 June, on a slightly lower rise in turnover to almost pounds 60m. Although the results were in line with expectations, the gloomy assessment pushed the shares 16p lower to 339p.

Philip Lowe, chairman, said European markets - which account for a third of sales - had a difficult first quarter. 'The downturn in Western Europe is a great deal more severe than expected and is having an adverse effect on activity in other geographic areas.'

Operating profits from the Continent fell in the first half but the company said a second-half recovery was expected to maintain the sector's full- year contribution.

The results reflect a sharp improvement in the Australian and US operations, where trading profits rose to pounds 1.4m ( pounds 940,000) and pounds 500,000 ( pounds 350,000). At home, the colours business lifted its surplus from pounds 3.52m to pounds 3.8m.

Currency factors boosted the results by about pounds 660,000 in the first half.

The interim dividend has been raised from 2.5p to 2.6p. Philip Morrish, chemicals analyst at Smith New Court, is forecasting pre-tax profits of pounds 12.8m for the full year, against pounds 10m in 1992.