UK energy firm Hargreaves in 18pc profit rise

BRITISH energy support services firm Hargreaves Services posted an 18 per cent rise in full-year pre-tax profit yesterday, bolstered by robust coke and coal sales in Europe, and said it expects strong demand for high-grade coal from steel producers.

The supplier of solid fuels and bulk material logistics said it would pay a final dividend of 10.4p per share, bringing the full-year dividend to 15.5p a share, up about 15 per cent from last year.

The firm, which was established in 1994 as a specialist bulk haulier, said it expected its Tower Colliery project in South Wales to contribute significant profits, after the planning permission for the project was finalised.

Hargreaves Services’ four operating divisions -- production, energy and commodities, transport, and industrial services – plan to focus mainly on Europe, Asia and the steel sector this year.

Underlying pre-tax profit in the year to the end of May rose to £40.5m from £34.3m last year. Revenue climbed 20 per cent to £552.3m.

The company’s shares, which have risen by more than 40 per cent over the past year, closed up 9.1 per cent at 982p, valuing the business at £243m.