SCOTTISH engineer Weir Group said yesterday that 2008 had proved to be the best operating year in its history.
Weir’s chairman, Lord Smith of Kelvin, speaking after the group reported a 53% increase in pre-tax profits from continuing operations, said: “We saw significant increases in input, revenue and earnings per share when compared to 2007.
“Our ach-ievements during the year included a realigned portfolio of businesses, improved operational performance and the addition of several high-quality businesses to the group.
“While we enter 2009 with a significantly stronger forward order book than at the same point last year, we are not immune from the broader economic environment and expect capital spending deferrals and lower activity levels to feature in many of our end markets.
“We are, however, unable to predict with any certainty the market conditions which will prevail in the latter part of the year.
“The group has considered a range of downturn scenarios which would tend to support the current range of 2009 market expectations for pre-tax profits before amortisation and exceptional items.”
Analyst forecasts on this basis are in the range of £140-£169million in profits.
Weir chief executive Mark Selway reported a strong start to 2009 and said the group’s order book was 20-25% higher than at the start of 2008. He added that the group’s strong focus on repairs and services, accounting for about half its turnover, should help to offset any spending cutbacks by customers later in the year.
Glasgow-based Weir, which from last May reorganised its operating units into three divisions in higher growth markets of mining, oil and gas and power and industrials, yesterday posted 2008 pre-tax profits from continuing operations of £176.2million, up 53% on the year before.
Revenue for 2008 increased by 34% year-on-year to £1.4billion.