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Interim management report

Overview

Bodycote delivered a strong first half performance. Revenues increased by 5% in the first six months of 2012 (7% at constant currencies). Headline operating profit grew by 10% to £47.5m, operating profit grew by 7% to £45.6m, and Group headline margins1 increased to 15.8% from 15.0%.

These results continue the Group's track record of improving performance, despite currency headwind and clearly weakened demand in the Eurozone economies. The Group's performance has been driven primarily by continued growth in the North American automotive and general industrial businesses and aerospace and energy in all geographies. This performance has been moderated to some extent by softer demand in the European automotive and general industrial segments.

Bodycote completed the acquisition of the heat treatment business of Curtiss-Wright Corporation at the end of the first quarter for a consideration of £32.6m. This brought nine additional facilities into the Group, one of which was closed as planned and the assets redistributed to other Bodycote sites. The remaining sites offer high margin services across the spectrum of market sectors in the USA, but with a notable presence in aerospace and energy. The fit into the existing Bodycote network is excellent, bringing us into the key aerospace manufacturing hub in Wichita, Kansas. The acquired sites also help to fill in gaps in our capability to service automotive and general industrial customers from Indiana to New Jersey. The business has performed somewhat ahead of our expectations in its first three months of ownership.

All parts of the Group continue to focus on operational efficiency and cost control. Excluding employees who joined the Group with the acquisition, average headcount was unchanged from 2011, notwithstanding the continued increase in sales. Headline operating cash flow conversion was 110%2, yielding an operating cash flow of £49.1m. Net capital expenditure remains closely controlled, but did increase to £26.6m (from £20.6m in the first half of 2011), a capital expenditure to depreciation ratio of 1.1 (2011: 0.8), in line with our stated intent to invest in capacity to service specific areas of long term demand growth. The investment is primarily in our selected focus technologies, notably in Hot Isostatic Pressing (HIP) and Speciality Stainless Steel Processes (S3P), together with expanded capacity to service the aerospace market. We expect to achieve accelerating growth from these activities as capacity constraints are eased.

Our facilities in Empalme (Mexico) and London (Ohio) are being expanded and a new site is being built in Toulouse (France) as part of the increase in aerospace-orientated capacity. In emerging markets we continue to prioritise China and a new facility is under construction in Jinan. All of these significant investments are backed by long term contracts, including those announced earlier this year with Precision Castparts Corp, Rolls-Royce and ZF Lenksysteme.

The key elements of the Group's strategy are: a focus on services that are highly valued by our customers; targeted customer engagement; increasing our emerging market footprint; growth in selected proprietary technologies; and the drive for operational excellence. The successful execution of our strategy is being reflected in the Group's performance and promises further improvements in returns in the medium and longer term.

1 Headline operating profit as a percentage of sales.
2 Headline operating cash flow divided by headline operating profit.

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