No cheer ahead as Hall’s profits slide

Hall Engineering found the going tough in the first half of the year, reporting a 24% drop in pre-tax profits to £7.2m last week. Chief executive John Sword said a slump in steel prices had badly affected its Carrington wire and BRC reinforcement division. The fall in profits was in line with revised expectations following […]

Hall Engineering found the going tough in the first half of the year, reporting a 24% drop in pre-tax profits to £7.2m last week.

Chief executive John Sword said a slump in steel prices had badly affected its Carrington wire and BRC reinforcement division.

The fall in profits was in line with revised expectations following a warning in May, which hit shares hard. Hall shares are now worth just 124p, compared with more than 250p in May.

Sword admitted there was little sign of an improvement in the group’s major markets.

First-half profits at the Stadco automotive pressings operation were hit by the costs of bringing a new Gloucester plant on line. However, Sword said he had high hopes for the automotive operation. As more European car makers outsource body pressings operations, companies like Hall hope to take up the slack.

The automotive division has been investing heavily this year, having spent over £15m on acquisitions. The renamed Stadco Tipton is pushing more volume through the plant, which gives Hall a presence in smaller pressings.

The start-up costs from Gloucester reduced automotive profits to £1.45m from £1.96m a year ago. Turnover, however, went up from £31.7m to £43.4m.

Sword stressed there were no plans to dispose of the wire or steel businesses, but that development of Stadco would take centre stage in the company’s plans.