Walker Crips, an integrated financial services group, has told investors it suffered 'difficult trading conditions' in the half year ended September 30th and said broadly lower transaction volumes in what were weaker equity markets results in a negative impact on performance.
As a result, the dividend was slashed to 0.47p per share (2011: 0.94p per share), although this will be combined with the previous announced special dividend after the company disposed of Liontrust Asset Management, which resulted in a one-off gain of £10m.
In a statement the company said: "The depressed market conditions of recent years show no signs of abating, as fragile investor confidence stutters in the face of Euro
and market uncertainty. However, [the] board is confident that the group is well positioned to benefit from any longer term improvement in market activity.
"The group has been implementing a strategy to refocus and build its investment management division. This process is now well advanced. We are very encouraged that twelve advisers, along with their clients, have joined the company since the beginning of the financial year bringing with them substantial new revenue streams, most of which will take effect in the second half of the year. Further recruitment is in prospect."
During the period revenue fell from £10.65m to £8.84m, with gross profit at £5.18m (2011: £7.4m) and profit before tax at £7.7m, significantly up on the £0.83m generated in the same period the previous year.
Administrative expenses remained stable at £6.3m, just slightly up on the £6.6m spent in the same period in 2011.
Latchways, a company which designs, makes and sells a range of fall protection systems, has posted a decline in group pre-tax profit as a result of what it describes as a 'poor start to the year'.
In the six months ended September 30th, group revenues dropped 9% year-on-year from £20.6m to £18.8m, of which £0.7m was caused by euro weakeness. This pushed pre-tax profit from £5.0m to £3.6m, and earnings per share totalled 24p, compared to 32.67p in the same period the previous year.
Chairman, Paul Hearson said: "As previously reported, this period has produced mixed fortunes for Latchways. Considerable progress has been made towards our long term goals, with the enhanced sales teams settling into their roles and already beginning to deliver notable successes.
"This has been set against a backdrop of weakness within our traditional installer business, resulting from the construction recession and fears over the Eurozone. Whilst these market forces resulted in a poor first quarter, we have recovered well and we remain confident of a successful outcome for the year as a whole."
Much of the decline was seen in Safety Products, in which revenues decreased by 10% to £15.1m. The division accounts for 74% of group revenues and 93% of operating profits in the period.
Overall gross margins were 1.8% lower than last year at 51.4%, which was mainly due to foreign exchange
Administrative expenses edged 2% higher to £6.1m, as the company made investments in sales resources.
The group operating margin for the period declined to 19.0% (2011: 24.1%), which the firm said was a "natural consequence of the operational gearing of the company" and is confident that margins will return to normal levels with improved revenues.
The firm said that because the reduction in revenues and profits seen in this period are considered to be short term it is continuing with its progressive dividend policy, and as such declared an interim dividend of 11p, up from 10p the same period the previous year.
Looking ahead the company says it is feeling confident: "We believe that our strategy of using our enhanced sales teams and excellent product range to grow our customer base across a range of key geographies and industries remains the way forward. The current level of activity and prospects give us confidence in a strong performance over the second half of the year and in the future."