De La Rue reports a solid first half performance underpinned by strong order book and good strategic progress.
Group revenue was flat at £189.5m (H1 2015/16: £188.7m) in the first half. Underlying operating profit was up 2% at £24.0m (H1 2015/16: £23.6m).
Underlying profit before tax increased by 3% to £18.2m (H1 2015/16: £17.6m) and underlying earnings per share was 4% lower at 14.0p (H1 2015/16: 14.6p). Exceptional net charges in the period were £1.0m (H1 2015/16: exceptional net gains of £7.5m), consisting of £1.6m site relocation and restructuring costs which were offset by £0.5m income relating to release of warranty provisions and a £0.1m gain from a land sale.
This resulted in profit before tax of £17.2m (H1 2015/16: £25.1m), down 31% year-on-year.
Underlying operating cash flow, comprising underlying operating profit adjusted for depreciation and the movement in working capital, was £25.0m (H1 2015/16: £61.1m). Net debt at 24 September 2016 was £115.5m up £9.4m since the year end mainly due to an adverse working capital movement. Inventory increased in preparation for sales in the second half of the year.
An interim dividend of 8.3p has been declared for the half year ended 24 September 2016 (H1 2015/16: 8.3p), payable on 11 January 2017 to shareholders on the register on 9 December 2016.
Chief executive Martin Sutherland said: "De La Rue's half year results are in line with our expectations. The Currency business has shown strength and resilience despite the impact from the conclusion of a material contract last year. Both Banknote Print and Banknote Paper have performed well with increased volumes.
"De La Rue continues to make good progress against our 2020 strategic plan. We have further strengthened our position in the fast growing East Africa region through the agreement to form a joint venture with the Government of Kenya. I am also pleased with the progress in Polymer where we have secured a second volume customer. We now supply polymer substrate to 15 issuing authorities, representing c40% of total polymer customers. Although the contribution to the Group from Polymer is still small, we are optimistic about its potential growth in the coming years.
"In non Currency businesses, we have secured two multi-year Identity Solutions contracts and gained early traction in the enterprise market for Product Authentication and Traceability.
"While we expect little impact in the current financial year, as a major UK-based exporter with more than 80% of our revenue from outside the UK, we believe that we would benefit from a sustained weakness of Sterling. We are also encouraged by our 12 month closing order book of £409m and the early strategic momentum in the key future growth areas. We remain confident of the business' outlook for the rest of the year and beyond."