Carr's (CARR.L), the Agriculture and Engineering Group, is issuing a trading update to coincide with its Annual General Meeting being held in Carlisle today at 11.30 am. This update relates to the 18-week period ended 5 January 2019. Overall, Carr's is trading in line with the Board's expectations for the current financial year in both Agriculture and Engineering.
UK Agriculture has begun the year positively despite the mild autumn which has subdued demand for oil and certain animal health products and supplements. Trading overall across the business continues as expected.
Sales volumes of feed blocks in the USA have started the year strongly following the recovery of cattle prices. In the UK and Europe, feed block volumes are in line with the Board's expectations.
The integration of Animax Limited, the manufacturer of market-leading trace element supplements for livestock, continues to progress well. The business, acquired in September 2018, broadens the Group's animal health and supplementation product ranges that deliver added value to farmers and is highly complementary to the Group's global feed block offering.
Our UK Manufacturing business has begun the year in line with the Board's expectations with our order book remaining strong.
Our remote handling business continues to perform well. In December we were pleased to strengthen the order book further by signing an $8.5m contract in the USA, which is in line with our growth strategy and represents a significant strategic milestone for the Group.
Our Engineering business in the USA has made a good start to the new year benefitting from a strong order book which was further strengthened by two significant MSIP® contracts won over the Summer. In December we received confirmation of significant funding from the Department of Energy to develop our passive cooling technology, which has the potential to be retrofitted on existing nuclear power plants.
The Group's financial position remains strong. Net debt as at 1 December 2018 was £23.9m compared to net debt of £15.4m at 1 September 2018. Most of this movement relates to the acquisition of Animax, in addition to usual seasonal working capital movements.
We continue to review suitable acquisition opportunities whilst investing in the Group's existing businesses both in the UK and overseas.
Subject to shareholder approval at today's AGM, the proposed final dividend of 2.35 pence per share for the year ended 1 September 2018 will be paid on 11 January 2019 to shareholders on the register at close of business on 30 November 2018.
Tim Davies, Chief Executive, commented:
"The new financial year has started well with trading in line with the Board's overall expectations. We remain confident that the investments made in acquisitions, research and product innovation leave the Group well positioned for future growth.
Whilst some clarity has been provided over the government's future policy on farming support, Brexit uncertainty remains for our customers and certain supply chains within which we operate. Further clarity over the UK's future trading relationship with the EU would bring greater confidence and stability back to our customers and marketplace although the Group remains confident that it is well placed in the medium term."
The Company expects to issue its interim results for the 26-week period ending 2 March 2019 on 15 April 2019.
|Carr's Group plc
Tim Davies (Chief Executive)
Neil Austin (Group Finance Director)
|Tel: +44 (0) 1228 554 600|
Nick Dibden / Lisa Kavanagh / Sam Austrums
|Tel: +44 (0) 20 7250 1446|
About Carr's Group plc:
Carr's is an international leader in manufacturing value added products and solutions, with market leading brands and robust market positions in Agriculture and Engineering, supplying customers in over 50 countries around the world.
Its Agriculture division manufactures and supplies feed blocks and supplementation products for livestock, distributes farm machinery and runs a UK network of rural stores, providing a one-stop shop for the farming community. Its Engineering division designs and manufactures bespoke equipment and provides technical engineering services into the nuclear, petrochemical, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, process and renewable energy industries, including robotic and remote handling equipment.