Wary outlook from Smiths as sales rise

City A.M. Reporter
BRITISH technology firm Smiths Group reported profits above expectations yesterday, helped by demand from the oil and gas industry that helped offset weak orders from government agencies for equipment such as airport scanners.

Smiths, whose products range from bomb detectors to medical devices and fuel hoses, said pre-tax profit rose 12 per cent to £486m on sales three per cent higher at £2.8bn for the year to 31 July. Analysts had forecast headline pre-tax profit of about £454.7m on sales of £2.8bn.

The results were boosted by 14 per cent sales growth at its John Crane unit, which makes mechanical seals for the oil and gas industry and accounts for 31 per cent of total sales.

But Smiths continued to be hit by slow sales at its detection unit, which makes airport scanners. The company first flagged falling sales at the division last November due to a delay in large orders from government agencies looking to cut public spending.

The company said yesterday the economic outlook remained uncertain.

“Continued pressures on government spending, which particularly impacted Smiths Detection, Medical and Interconnect are likely to continue to constrain revenue opportunities of some of our businesses during fiscal 2012,” Smiths said.

Shares in Smiths closed up two per cent at 969.5p yesterday, valuing the business at about £3.8bn.