Smiths Group eyes US shale gas opportunities as profit jumps

THE CHIEF executive of engineer Smiths Group yesterday said he was eyeing further shale gas opportunities in the US for its John Crane division, as its full-year profit rose three per cent.

FTSE-listed Smiths, whose products range from explosive detectors to surgical needles, said pre-tax profit rose to £223m in the six months to January from £217m a year earlier, on underlying headline revenue six per cent higher at £1.48bn.

Turnover grew four per cent at subsidiary John Crane, thanks to continued growth in pipeline expansion projects from increased oil shale activity in the US.

Chief executive Philip Bowman yesterday said that the benefits from increased US shale gas activity will be seen over the next two years, and will mostly benefit John Crane, which makes seals, couplings and bearings for companies such as BP, Total and Rolls-Royce.

Bowman was more cautious on the outlook. “Looking to the second half, we see tough trading conditions as a result of the US medical device tax, slower demand in some parts of John Crane, and the impact of further government budget cuts,” he added.