Ewart raises interim profit to £710,000


EWART, the Belfast property company, has increased its pretax profit from £511,000 sterling to £710,000 in the six months ended October 31st, 1995. Despite this upsurge, the interim dividend is being maintained at 9.5p net per share.

The profit growth is entirely due to the inclusion of in vestment income amounting to £278,000. This arose from the maturity of life policies. If this income is excluded, profits would have shown a 15.5 per cent drop.

The drop in operating profit is attributed to reduced income from the group's West Kent subsidiary which is "currently operating in a very competitive market", said chairman, Mr Brian O'Connor. The trading posit ion has improved since October. Mr Barry Gilligan, managing director, said he is "confident about the out turn for the year".

The group has completed the acquisition of an office investment in Birmingham. It is considering a number of acquisitions and disposals, but these have not been identified.

Ewart is to appoint an additional independent non executive director.

The board changes occurred following the acquisition of a 26.5 per cent stake by Dublin solicitor Noel Smyth, last year. He had requisitioned an extraordinary general meeting last year to remove three Ewart directors (including Mr Gilligan) but later withdrew the resolution.

As part of a compromise agreement he became a non executive director, and his nominee, Mr Stewart Harrington, also joined the board.

Mr Smyth is chairman of Dunloe House.

The latest Ewart figures show a rise in sales from £2.66 million to £2.73 million. However, the cost of sales went up from £1.18 million to £1.35 million. Earnings per share rose from 1.66p to 1.87p.

Ewart remains in a relatively strong financial position with a gearing of 55 per cent. Net assets improved from £17.4 million to £19.6 million.

Ewart is no longer appealing last June's High Court order which directed it to pay fees of £150,000 plus interest to a firm of financial consultants.

The claim for damages for breach of contract was brought against the group by Unicorn Investments, a company registered in the Virgin Islands, in connection with the abortive bid by Ewart for Switzers in 1990.

A full provision for the damages was made in Ewart's accounts last year.