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THE BOC GROUP INTERIM ANNOUNCEMENT OF (UNAUDITED) RESULTS FOR THE SIX MONTHS TO MARCH 31, 1993

 -- Turnover, operating profit and operating profit less interest all increased by 11 percent compared with the same period a year ago.
 -- Exchange rate movements had a beneficial impact on the translation of the results into sterling. At constant rates, operating profit less interest would have increased by 3 percent.
 -- During the six months there were signs of economic recovery in at least three important markets, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Yet in all of them the recovery was far weaker than at the equivalent stages of previous economic cycles.
 -- Profits of the Pharmaceutical Products Division are beginning to be impacted by the onset of generic competition for the anaesthetic pharmaceutical FORANE.
 -- The vacuum and distribution business reported an encouraging improvement in profitability.
 These half-year results will be posted on May 19 to all holders of listed securities. Copies will then be available to the public from the company's registered officer at Chertsey Road, Windlesham, Surrey GU20 6HJ.
 SURREY, England, May 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The BOC Group turnover increased 11 percent to $2,407.2 million. Operating profit for the six months to March 31, 1993, was $333.2 million, an increase of 11 percent over the same period last year. Operating profit less interest also increased by 11 percent to $271.9 million while earnings per share were 35.56 cents, up 9 percent.
 During the six months there were signs of economic recovery in at least three important markets, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Yet in all of them the recovery was far weaker than at the equivalent stages of previous economic cycles.
 In the Unite Kingdom a favorable trend in retail sales has been reported for several months but evidence of this upturn is filtering through only slowly to industrial activity. The U.S. upturn has continued somewhat erratically for about a year. Recent reports suggest that the rate of progress may slow even further in the next few months and the impact on demand remains restrained. In Australia too, there is continuing evidence of improvement in economic activity, but the upward trend is so far weak. Thus in each of these the company has rely on trimming costs as much as upon improved demand to generate modest underlying profit growth.
 A sharp fall in economic activity in Japan during the period may just now be coming to an end. Elsewhere in the North Pacific, growth has continued in most markets. Concerns remain about political conditions, and their potential impact on the economy, in South Africa.
 Gases and Related Products
 In the U.K., growth of liquefied gas sales has continued while the decline of traditional heavy industries and fabrication activities have led to reduced offtake of some compressed gases and from tonnage supply schemes. The SUREFLOW hospitality gas supply business has made good progress and so has the special gases business.
 On May 19, Her Majesty The Queen will open the new $30 million special gases plant at Immingham on Humberside. This will supply products to customers in electronics production and other industries throughout Europe. Earlier in the year the U.K. Special Gases business received The Queen's Award for Export Achievement.
 Meanwhile construction of the new $68 million plant for atmospheric gases at Brinsworth near Sheffield is on schedule for completion next year. This will supply new and existing customers in the steel industry through an extended pipeline system and make available more liquid product to satisfy growing demand.
 Earlier this month the company announced the acquisition of three industrial gas businesses in Poland. BOC is confident that it will develop into one of the more attractive markets of Eastern Europe. The company has done business in Poland for nearly 20 years in a joint venture producing helium.
 In North America, competition remains intense and some gains in the bulk liquids business were partly offset by a generally sluggish market for compressed gases and equipment. The setback in the Japanese economy had only a slight impact on the performance of business there. Most other North Pacific businesses produced better results but in Taiwan, despite continued economic growth, competition increased following the completion of several new plants. Signs of economic recovery in Australia came too late to affect the interim result, but improved consumer confidence should show through in trading conditions later this year. The political outlook remains uncertain in South Africa but the company produced satisfactory results in the first half.
 Healthcare
 Healthcare operating profit for the half year was 14 percent higher than a year ago, but the exceptionally strong growth seen in the first quarter did not continue in the second three months.
 In the Pharmaceutical Products Division, the anaesthetic agent FORANE began to feel the effect of generic competition on sales and profit. This was anticipated as FORANE's U.S. patent protection ended in January. The new anaesthetic pharmaceutical, SUPRANE, which is still at an early stage of its roll-out, is being well-received by the medical profession following its launch in the United States. Applications have already been made for its registration in several other countries, including most of the major European markets.
 Earlier in the year the company added BREVIBLOC, an injectable pharmaceutical for controlling heart rate, to its portfolio of products for use in critical care applications in the hospital.
 Although it is still at a relatively early stage of development, clinical trials of the Recombinant Human Albumin continue to show excellent results.
 The company is particularly pleased with the progress being made by its Medical Systems, Medical Devices and Specialty Products Divisions. As a result of restructuring, it is confident of obtaining a significant improvement in profitability for its devices and equipment businesses as a whole.
 Vacuum Technology and Distribution Services
 Operating profit from the Edwards High Vacuum business increased sharply in the second quarter with improving sales and better export margins, assisted by weaker sterling. The order book is encouraging and the company hopes that this improvement will be sustained throughout the year. Although results are well ahead of last year, the coating technology business is still affected by weak conditions, with many customers still suffering from recession.
 BOC Distribution Services reported a steady profit performance in competitive market conditions. The new businesses continued their progress.
 Interest, Borrowings and Taxes
 Following the acquisition of BREVIBLOC in January, the borrowings have increased and capital gearing has also been increased by exchange rate movements. It is, however, still at a very comfortable level, with net borrowings at 32 percent of capital employed, and net interest payments are about five times covered by operating profit. The effective tax rate is slightly higher this year than last because of changes in the geographical mix of profit.
 Dividends
 A second interim dividend of 17.5 cents will be paid on Aug. 2 to holders of ordinary shares registered on June 4. The shares will be quoted ex dividend on May 24. Shareholders will continue to be given the opportunity to take all or part of their dividends in shares rather than cash.
 THE BOC GROUP
 Group Results
 (Unaudited, in millions)
 Six months Year
 3/31/93 3/31/92 9/30/92
 Turnover, including share of
 related undertakings $2,407.2 $2,164.1 $4,322.7
 Less: share of related undertakings 121.4 94.2 198.6
 Turnover 2,285.8 2,069.9 4,124.1
 Operating profit: 333.2 300.9 620.5
 Goodwill write-off on disposal
 of operations -- -- (176.8)
 Profit on disposal of operation -- -- 21.1
 Reorganization costs -- -- (38.4)
 Profit on disposal of fixed assets
 on continuing operations 3.5 0.9 2.4
 Profit on ordinary activities
 before interest (A) 336.7 301.8 428.8
 Interest (61.3) (56.1) (104.1)
 Profit on ordinary activities
 before tax 275.4 245.7 324.7
 Tax (B) (93.6) (81.6) (165.5)
 Profit on ordinary activities
 after tax 181.8 164.1 159.2
 Minority interests (13.3) (10.7) (21.2)
 Profit for the financial year 168.5 153.4 138.0
 Earnings per share net basis,
 undiluted(C) (expressed as cents)
 - on published profit for
 the financial year 35.56 32.54 29.20
 - before goodwill write-off 35.56 32.54 66.67
 (A) -- Profit before interest includes the share of profits of related undertakings of $21 million (1992 six months: $15.3 million; 1992 year: $34.1 million)
 (B) -- Overseas tax included in the tax charge amounted to $55.3 million (1992 six months: $45.1 million; 1992 year: $94.1 million). Related undertakings tax amounted to $4.5 million (1992 six months: $4.2 million; 1992 year: $8.9 million)
 (C) -- The number of shares used in the earnings per share calculation was 473.6 million (1992 six months: 471.6 million; 1992 year: 472.2 million).
 Segmental Information
 Turnover and Operating Profit
 (In millions)
 Six months Year
 March 1993 March 1992 Sept. 92
 Operating Operating Oper.
 Turnover profit Turnover profit Turnover Profit
 By Business
 Gases & related
 products $1,700.8 $232.7 $1,512.5 $217.4 $2,988.9 $434.1
 Health care 458.3 82.9 386.0 72.8 800.9 149.2
 Vacuum & distr. 248.1 18.3 199.2 10.6 425.1 29.7
 Corporate -- 0.3 -- (1.4) -- 3.2
 Cont. opers. 2,407.2 334.2 2,097.7 299.4 4,214.9 616.2
 Discont. opers. -- (1.0) 66.4 (1.5) 107.8 4.3
 Total 2,407.2 333.2 2,164.1 300.9 4,322.7 620.5
 By Region
 Europe $679.4 $93.7 $639.4 $93.8 $1,307.9 $204.4
 Africa 214.3 42.6 187.8 39.4 371.2 76.7
 Americas 846.5 116.4 709.4 97.2 1,418.6 201.0
 Asia/Pacific 667.0 81.5 561.1 69.0 1,117.2 134.1
 Cont. opers. 2,407.2 334.2 2,097.7 299.4 4,214.9 616.2
 Discont. opers. -- (1.0) 66.4 (1.5) 107.8 4.3
 Total 2,407.2 333.2 2,164.1 300.9 4,322.7 620.5
 Condensed Balance Sheet
 (Unaudited, in millions)
 3/31/93 9/30/92
 Fixed Assets
 Tangible assets $3,360.8 $3,011.2
 Intangible assets 72.3 --
 Related undertakings and
 other investments 264.7 232.7
 Working capital (excluding bank
 balances and short-term loans) 557.7 483.1
 Total $4,255.5 $3,727.0
 Shareholders' capital and reserves 2,280.1 2,096.5
 Minority shareholders' interests 286.0 238.6
 Non-current liabilities and provisions 343.8 306.5
 Net borrowings and finance leases 1,345.6 1.083.4
 Total $4,255.5 $3,727.0
 Notes:
 -- There have been no changes to accounting policies since Sept. 30, 1992. The group has adopted a new accounting policy for material intangible assets. Items such as patents and trademarks acquired by the group are capitalized and written off over the life of the asset. There is no effect on comparative data.
 -- Financial data for the year to Sept. 30 1992, has been based on the full group accounts for that period. The 1992 accounts received an unqualified auditors' report and have been delivered to the Registrar of Companies.
 -- All amounts shown in US$ have been translated at the rate of $1 equals 0.662 pounds sterling which was the rate of exchange applicable on March 31, 1993.
 Cash Flow
 (In millions)
 Six months Year
 3/31/93 3/31/92 9/30/92
 Operating profit $333.2 $300.9 $620.5
 Depreciation and amortization 168.1 149.2 300.3
 Other (117.6) (71.8) (49.1)
 Net cash inflow from
 operating activities 383.7 378.3 871.7
 Interest paid (net) (57.7) (49.4) (112.6)
 Dividends paid (net) (78.5) (72.9) (146.5)
 Net cash outflow from returns
 on investments and servicing
 of finance (136.2) (122.3) (259.1)
 Tax paid (34.6) (66.4) (154.0)
 Capital expenditure (net) (235.9) (222.6) (456.6)
 Purchase of intangible assets (71.1) -- --
 Acquisitions of businesses (7.9) (37.8) (49.8)
 Disposals of businesses -- 4.5 57.8
 Other investments (net) (2.0) 43.6 44.5
 Net cash outflow from investing
 activities (316.9) (212.3) (404.1)
 Net cash surplus/(requirement) (104.0) (22.7) 54.5
 -0- 5/18/93
 /CONTACT: Nigel Rowe, CEO-corporate relations, or Christopher Marsay, group manager-investor relations, of the BOC Group, 0860-518314 (before 1 p.m. today) or 0276-477222 thereafter/


CO: The BOC Group ST: New Jersey IN: SU: ERN

CK-TO -- NY039 -- 9737 05/18/93 11:54 EDT
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Date:May 18, 1993
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