Ricardo has noted an increasing level of sales interest in a number regions but said that trading conditions in its core markets had not significantly improved since the year end.
In its Interim Management Statement the global engineering and automotive consultancy claimed that client confidence had increased but noted that orders were still difficult to predict, with month-by-month slippages regularly occurring.
In the US the group experienced a poor start to the financial year, made worse by significantly lower passenger-car-based orders. However, it said that recent defence orders with additional government and technology work are anticipated to lead to a positive trend in the year ahead.
The company also expects an increase in orders in Germany, where there have been further discussions with clients since the summer shutdown of car-manufacturing facilities. In the rest of Europe the group has noted comparably less activity, however its UK business has seen a boost in the level of active discussions from Asia.
The group said that order intake for the four months since beginning of July reflected the expected dip due to the summer months and was 22 per cent lower compared to the same period a year earlier. The order book at the end of October closed at just over £100m compared to £97m at the end of June 2009.
Looking ahead, the group said: ‘The balance sheet remains strong, with no significant changes in the financial position since our full-year results to 30 June 2009, although – as in previous years – we do expect to see net debt increase at the end of the first half, consistent with the trading profile.
‘We continue to believe that the underlying demand for our technology and services remains, driven by tightening emissions and CO2 legislation. As previously stated we are pressing ahead with our strategy to increase customer and sector spread, supported by investment in research, facilities and our people. We reaffirm that we expect trading in the first half of this financial year to be substantially lower than the same period last financial year.’