Essentra shares tumble after it issues a third profit warning

 
Courtney Goldsmith
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Essentra issued a profit warning because of its healthcare division
Essentra issued a profit warning because of its healthcare division (Source: Getty)

Shares in British industrial group Essentra fell up to 12 per cent in morning trading after it issued its third profit warning in less than a year.

The FTSE 250-listed maker of cigarette filters and packaging said the performance of its health and personal care packaging division suffered due to "continuing operational issues" in a trading update for the financial year ended 31 December.

Its share price had risen somewhat at the time of publishing but was still down 4.95 per cent at 420.8p.

Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, said: "A brace of warnings in such quick succession is a real concern, and today’s sell-off adds to an existing downtrend and weak start to the year. However, bargain hunters have already stepped in to rally the shares well off their worst levels of -12.5 per cent."

Essentra, which was the worst-performing stock on the European Stoxx 600, noted a "significant decline" in revenue and profitability during the last two months of the year and said it does not expect improvement in the near future.

As a result, Essentra expects adjusted operating profit to be at or "modestly below" the bottom end of previous forecasts of £137m to £142m.

In November, the company said it had experienced slow growth in its healthcare packaging arm, which is its largest revenue driver, and shares proceeded to tumble by 20 per cent.

​The healthcare packaging unit will receive specific, short-term attention from chief executive Paul Forman and other senior management. An update of Forman's strategic review of the company will be provided in its results on 28 July 2017.

Forman, who was announced as chief executive in October 2016, joined the company this month. He has been tasked with reversing the firm's fortune by slimming down the company's portfolio and reducing its debt.

In its trading statement, Essentra said net debt for the year was expected to be £380m from £374m in 2015. The better-than-expected results were partly driven by improvements in the company's working capital position.

The divestment of its Porous Technologies business was confirmed to be completed during the first quarter of 2017, adding net proceeds of about £185m to £190m to result in a significant exceptional gain for the next financial year.

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