Fenner keeps an eye on Ukraine crisis as uncertainty mounts

Nick Hobson, chief executive of engineering group Fenner
Nick Hobson, chief executive of engineering group Fenner
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Industrial conveyor belt maker Fenner said sentiment amongst its coal mining customers remains cautious as a result of low commodity prices.

The Hessle-based group said it hopes to see some benefit from higher levels of coal consumption and generally lower US coal stock piles in the coming months.

However, the group said it is mindful of the potential impact of uncertainty in the Ukraine.

In an update on trading for the six months to the end of February, Fenner said results will be below last year, although in constant currency terms the outcome for the year as a whole will show modest growth.

Trading at its key Engineered Conveyor Solutions unit was lower than last year, reflecting strong trading in Australia.

Nicholas Hobson, chief executive, said the group is seeing improving demand for its products in Australia, boosted by high levels of iron ore and coal extraction, which resulted in higher order books.

Fenner said the Advanced Engineered Products division, which makes goods ranging from high-pressure seals to silicone catheters, put in an encouraging performance particularly in the oil and gas industry.

Sales that were deferred from the first half are now expected to be made up in the second half of the current year or in the following financial year

Fenner has been hit by the strong pound.

If 2013 results had been calculated using current rates, operating profits would have fallen by £8.7m to £92.8m.