Siebe Plc, the Windsor, Berkshire-based controls and engineering company, which owns Foxboro, Massachusetts-based Foxboro Co, describes its financial results for the year to April 4 as very creditable, pre-tax profits up 7% at UKP170m on sales up 10% at UKP1,628m. Barrie Stephens, chairman of the group, points to an underlying resilience to severe pressures on sales and margins. Business overseas accounted for 90% of total revenues, and 88% of profits. Siebe now refers to three distinct areas of activity – Temperature and Appliance Controls, which includes Robertshaw Controls Co, Ranco Controls Inc and Siebe International Environments; Foxboro; and Diversified Products, which includes CompAir, Tecalemit and Safety & Life Support. The first was affected by the recession in most geographic areas, except Japan and Germany. Process controls specialist Foxboro, acquired in September 1990 for UKP342m, returned to a significant level of profitability in its first full year under Siebe, after several years of losses prior to takeover; the New England company, which has now been restructured, achieved UKP13m profits on UKP325m sales for the twelve months to April. Shareholders’ investment in inventory and receivables was reduced by 20% and the firm generated UKP55m cash. Foxboro has recently launched its 50 Series Work Station Processor and Application Processor process control systems upgrades, achieved through collaboration with Sun Microsystems Inc. In the petrochemical industry, orders came in from Texaco, Mobil, Total, Shell, Husky Oil and Pemex. The Diversified Products division saw most companies increase market share, though trading at a lower level activity. In May, the Siebe group replaced its various short-term loan arrangements with a $225m five-year revolving credit facility, arranged by NatWest Capital Markets, which has been syndicated to 18 international banks. Over the year, gearing – excluding finance leases – fell from 98% to 79%. Operating cash flow of UKP109.5m, before payment for restructuring at Foxboro and UKP29.5m in severance costs, was up UKP41m at UKP110m. Stephens says the group in the second half of the year witnessed the start of an economic upturn in its markets, particularly in the US, and remains hopeful, if still cautious, for a good performance this current year.
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