Britain's Cookson Group Plc reported a 33% rise in full year profits
recently, beating market forecasts, but the specialist industrial
materials firm warned it was heading for tougher times. Cookson's
main customers, including Motorola and Intel, have forecast dramatic
sales slowdowns, leading to a decline in new orders. Chief Executive
Stephen Howard told Reuters Cookson was putting an end to two years
of acquisitions to focus on weathering the economic slowdown,
particularly in the U.S. He said trading conditions for the
electronic materials division, which drove the earnings rise last
year and accounts for over 50% of total sales, would be difficult in
the first half. "Considerable progress was made during 2000 and
profits rose to record levels. Strong organic sales and profit growth
was achieved, especially by the electronics division," Howard said.
In the ceramics division, operating profit rose by 45%, mainly as a
result of higher global steel production and from the contribution
from the Premier Refractories acquisition. But the division faced
challenges with its steel and foundry markets in the U.S. and the UK
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