Cookson in the red

Cookson Group, the specialist materials conglomerate, tumbled GBP 109 million into the red in 2001 as its printed circuit board business felt the impact of the severe downturn in electronics. However,…

Cookson Group, the specialist materials conglomerate, tumbled GBP 109 million into the red in 2001 as its printed circuit board business felt the impact of the severe downturn in electronics. However, the shares rose 5 1/2 to 78 1/2 p after Cookson forecast that the electronics market “may have begun to bottom out”. Stephen Howard, group chief executive, said its electronics division – its largest – has “recently seen weekly sales levels in line with those in the fourth quarter of 2001”. Group pre-tax losses for the year ending in December were GBP 109.2 million, compared with a GBP 77.5 million profit a year ago. Sales fell 17% to a little over GBP 2 billion. The electronics division unveiled an operating loss of GBP 14.3 million, compared with a profit of GBP 134.6 million last year. Sales were down 35%, reflecting a 49% decline in orders for printed circuit boards. Cookson ended the year with net debts of GBP 750 million, a reduction of GBP 44 million on the previous year, aided by cash proceeds from disposals amounting to GBP 19.5 million. There will be no final dividend, as previously announced. In addition, no cash dividends will be paid throughout 2002.