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James Latham Plc - Final Results

Final Results


Chairman's statement


I am pleased to report good trading results for the financial year to 31 March 2019


Revenue for the financial year to 31 March 2019 was £235.1m, up 9.4% on last year's £214.9m. Volumes increased by 0.9%, with the majority of the growth being on direct business. The cost price of our products increased against the comparative 12 months and fluctuated more than in previous years. However cost prices on some imported plywood have shown price weakness in the last quarter of the year.


Gross profit for the financial year to 31 March 2019 was 17.2% compared with 17.6% in the previous financial year. This figure includes warehouse costs, which have increased due to planned extended working hours, further investment in our racking systems and some increased rents at our leased sites.


Profit before tax is £15.3m, up £0.1m on last year's £15.2m. As reported at the half year, the High Court made a judgment confirming that pension schemes are required to equalise male and female Guaranteed Minimum Pensions ("GMP"). The trustees have assessed this one-off cost and £0.7m has been provided to cover this. In addition profit before tax this year includes a profit of £1.1m on the sale of our old Yate site, and last year included a profit of £1.3m on the sale of our old site in Wigston.


Profit after tax for the year is £12.4m, down from last year's £12.6 m


Earnings per ordinary share, adjusted for the effect of the property profit and the one off cost relating to GMP were 61.6p (2018: 57.9p) an increase of 6.4%.


As at 31 March 2019 net assets have increased to £98.0m (2018: £89.8m). Non current assets have increased by £2.7m from 31 March 2018, in part due to the continuing investment in our vehicle fleet and warehouse forklifts, plus also the acquisition of Abbey Wood Agencies Limited. Inventory levels have increased to £42.3m, partly due to the increase in unit cost of the stock as well as our planned Brexit stock. Trade receivables have continued to show good debtors day figures with there being another low bad debt charge of 0.23% of revenue. Cash and cash equivalents of £15.5m (2018: £14.0m), remain strong with good cash flows from operating activities.


At 31 March 2019 the deficit of the defined benefit scheme under IAS19 (revised) was £8.7m, up £0.3m compared with £8.4m last year. The calculation of the pension deficit remains very sensitive to changes in assumptions.


Final dividend


The Board has declared a final dividend of 12.9p per Ordinary Share (2018: 12.1p). The dividend is payable on 23 August 2019 to ordinary shareholders on the company's register at close of business on 2 August 2019. The ex-dividend date will be 1 August 2019. The total dividend per ordinary share of 17.9p for the year (2018: 16.6p) is covered 3.5 times by earnings (2018: 3.9 times). 



Current and future trading


We have had a positive start to the year with sales per working day 4.5 % higher for April and May than the corresponding period last year, excluding Abbey Woods. Margins have also improved compared to the second half of 2018/19.  The acquisition and integration of Abbey Woods has gone very well, and we now have a great platform to develop sales in Ireland.  We continue to see growth in sales of added value timber and panel products, although volume growth in our core products is proving more challenging. Prices on some of our commodity panels are showing signs of weakness, partly due to over stocking within our industry. I am pleased to report that there is a good level of activity for the majority of both our timber and panel customers.  Despite the strong start to the year, there is still uncertainty surrounding the economic outlook, but we remain confident that we are in a strong position to continue to grow the business.



Development Strategy


The directors will continue to develop the business, and look for opportunities to grow the business through any suitable acquisitions to support market sectors we are looking to grow and also identify new products in market sectors where we are focussing our efforts. We will continue to invest in our warehouses and extend the working day at our depots to ensure that we meet the delivery needs of our existing and new customers. The focus will be major racking investment in Purfleet and Thurrock, and Gateshead where we have now gained planning permission to develop the site to improve the yard layout and provide new offices. Our Fareham depot will join Yate and Leeds in working a 24 hour shift system. I am pleased to report that our focus on the A&D specification sector is leading to a growing number of specifications for our products, and this is an area we will continue to develop as we build our future order book.