Everything ship shape at buoyant James Fisher

An “encouraging first half” was reported by Barrow-in-Furness-based marine service specialist James Fisher and Sons, who confirmed it is considering acquisition opportunities.

Revenues for the six months to June 30, rose 12% from £232.5m to £260.5m, while profit before tax improved from £17.1m last year to £21.5m.

The interim dividend per share showed a 10% rise to 10.3 per share.

Highlights during the first half included an 11% growth in organic revenue, an 18% improvement in underlying operating profit of £24.5m, profit growth in all divisions, with marine support achieving 21% growth and a 19% improvement in technical, the delivery of the first Indian Navy submarine rescue system, and a first long-term maintenance contract in renewables.

Chief executive, Nick Henry, said this morning: “We have had an encouraging first half, with particularly strong performances from our marine support and specialist technical divisions.

“We continue to invest in those companies with the best prospects for organic growth and to track a number of interesting acquisition prospects.

“Our cash conversion is strong and a significant working capital unwind is expected in the second half subject to successful delivery of the second submarine rescue vessel to the Indian Navy.”

He added: “The Board believes that the group’s outlook for the year is positive and that James Fisher continues to be well placed to provide further growth and value for shareholders.”

Looking ahead, the board said it expects the second half of the financial year will benefit from the contracts secured and momentum built during the first half in the marine support division.

The division’s results were heavily weighted to the second half in 2017 due to the timing of various projects.

2018 has returned to a more usual spread of business over the Summer months, such that any growth in the second half will be modest. The division continues to see significant opportunities for 2019 and beyond.

The specialist technical division continues to trade well and has a solid order book for the remainder of the year.

Prospects for further significant projects remain strong but the timing of such awards will remain uncertain, the board cautioned.

The offshore oil division remains well placed for an upturn in maintenance activity in the sector, but it is expected that it will be 2019 before any significant benefit is seen.

Meanwhile, tankships has delivered a strong increase in the first half and with its stable market should continue to perform well as it introduces two more modern vessels into its fleet in the second half.