Cookson Cooks Up Record Profit, But Outlook Grim
March 7, 2001
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 being depressed.