Engineering group IMI said this week its strategy of focusing on four sectors was paying off, reporting pre-tax profit before exceptionals of £146.5m a 7% rise, beating analysts’ forecasts.
Sales from continuing operations advanced 12% to £1,411m with strong growth from Europe and the US.
All four sectors, building products, drinks dispensers, fluid power and special engineering boosted sales and profits despite the strong pound.
Fluid power made record sales and profit in 1997 due mainly to the US and the first full-year contribution of ISI Automation, acquired in December 1996, recording sales of £55m.
Overall fluid power sales at £336m and profit at £38m were ahead of the previous year by 28% and 34% respectively. The special engineering sector which in the UK includes Birmingham Mint and Eley Ammunition recorded an increase in profit from continuing operations to £17.3m, on total sales of £216m.
IMI spent £219m on acquisitions, many of them outside the UK, with the result that last year 69% of sales were generated abroad by 62% of IMI’s workforce.
Sir Eric Pountain, chairman, said IMI should be able to benefit from the emerging economic upturn in Europe and sustained US demand. Sales in South-East Asia account for £77m, making up 5% of IMI’s total external sales.
Last week, IMI completed the sale of its industrial heat exchanger division for £21m to Chart Industries based in Ohio.
The move follows the sale of five engineering businesses worth £6m in February.