Annual profits surge 24% to £26.2 million


IAWS has produced bumper results for the year to the end of July with pre-tax profits of £26.2 million representing a near 24 per cent increase when account is taken of exceptional gains in the 1997 accounts.

"From where I sit these are undoubtedly the best set of results we have reported. I don't know of a time when there were better opportunities for the group. The company is in super shape, in terms of the balance sheet, gearing, falling interest rates, falling tax rates. The cost of funding is at an all-time low and we're in a great position to motor on from here," an ebullient chief executive, Mr Philip Lynch, stated.

Turnover was up from £582.7 million to £675.3 million - with the increase in sales split almost equally between the core businesses and acquisitions. Likewise, the £6.6 million jump in operating profits to £32.9 million is split almost equally between organic growth and acquisitions. Operating margins increased from 4.5 per cent to 4.9 per cent although the group does not give a breakdown of operating profits in its various divisions - animal feed, fertiliser, proteins and food.

During the year the group completed the acquisition of Cuisine de France and paid over a £3 million portion of the earn-out to its former owners, Pat Loughrey and Ronan McNamee. A further £8 million earn-out remains to paid and this will bring the total consideration for the outfit to £51 million.

The group invested a total of £63 million on acquisitions and capital expenditure but strong cash-flow meant that net debt rose to just £43 million or a gearing of 93 per cent. Interest charges of £6.7 million were comfortably covered by 4.9 times. A final dividend of 1.852p per share is being paid, bringing the total for the year to 3.536p - a rise of 10 per cent.