Monday 20 November 2017

Kingspan shares fall 5pc as warning sparks tumble

Market mulls more bad news after hopes of double digit growth dashed

Gene Murtage, CEO of Kingspan
Gene Murtage, CEO of Kingspan

Tom McEnaney

Kingspan's share price fell by 5pc yesterday after the company warned that earnings this year might fall "appreciably" short of last year's figure.

This is the second profit warning in three months from the Kingscourt-based company.

Last December, Kingspan told investors expecting 10pc growth in 2008 that earnings would only grow by a "mid-single-digit" figure.

Gene Murtagh, Kingspan's chief executive, yesterday confirmed rumours which had been circulating in the market for weeks, when he said that the company's 2008 earnings would come in toward the lower end of analysts' expectations.

Davy, which is pencilling in a 26pc fall in earnings, has the most bearish forecast in the market.

Mr Murtagh said: "Most people realise the environment is a bit tough out there. There will be a drop (in earnings) and it won't be an insignificant drop if things continue the way they are going."

Mr Murtagh declined to say how great a fall in earnings he was expecting.

"The uncertainty out there is too great to pin a number on it," the Kingspan chief executive explained.

The profit warning overshadowed good 2007 results for the group with EPS (earnings per share) of 108.5c up 24pc on the previous year based on a net profit of €187.3m. Sales grew 27pc to €1.86bn.

Merrion Capital analyst John Mattimoe said, "The company is flagging a lot of uncertainty but when you look at what they are saying for individual segments, the picture is not necessarily that bleak".

UK revenue at the company last year rose 26pc to €1.04bn, while Kingspan's revenue from continental Europe jumped 38pc to €376m.

Sales of insulated panels rose 33pc, while insulated boards increased 33pc, the company said.

Although Kingspan is expanding in markets across the world, Ireland and the UK still account for about 70pc of its sales.

According to Mr Murtagh, the company has seen drops in the residential side of its business, including timber-framed homes, in both the UK and Irish markets.

He said that, so far this year, Kingspan was looking at a 5pc to 10pc drop in housing units in the UK.

Mr Murtagh said the Irish non-residential business was "solid enough", with the insulation business down "slightly".

In the UK, the company is seeing what Mr Murtagh described as "substantial slippage" in its low-rise metal panel business.

This is one of the company's core products and is used to make buildings such as warehouses.

However, in the UK office market the company is seeing sales in 2008 which Mr Murtagh said were "as strong as ever".

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