16 March 1998 00:00 [Source: ICB]
Inspec turned in a strong headline performance in 1997, with sales advancing 31% to £394m ($645m) and operating profit recording an bigger jump of 43% to £55.5m.
But the first time full-year inclusion of Shell's fine chemicals business and advances in ethylene oxide/glycol (EO/EG) accounted for the bulk of the improvement.
The speciality chemicals division's operating profit dipped from £22m to £21m, on sales up from £138m to £148m, while performance products recorded a loss of £3m (£1.2m loss in 1996), on sales up just £1m to £28m.
Fine chemicals earned £24.3m on sales of £126m, compared with 1996 figures of £11.5m and £68m, respectively, including just six months' contribution from the Shell purchase. The star performer was the EO/EG business, which achieved a sales advance of 35% to £92.4m, and an operating profit more than doubled to £13m.
Inspec chairman, John Hollowood, described the performance as 'resilient', adding that the strength of sterling cost the company £10m in pre-tax earnings, which settled up 47% at £47m. Prospects for performance products look better after a disappointing result from the US mining chemicals business last year.
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