GKN sees profits remain flat as tough markets in agriculture prove a drag

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Engineering firm GKN saw profits remain flat last year after rising sales at its auto and aerospace arm were offset by “tough markets” for its agricultural parts business.

The FTSE 100 firm posted a pre-tax profit that edged up 0.3 per cent to £603m, as its Land Systems agricultural and construction unit struggled. Shares slipped almost 3 per cent.

But the Redditch-based group said its £480m acquisition of Netherlands-based aircraft parts maker Fokker Technologies, completed in October, would help it grow this year. Chief executive Nigel Stein said: “We performed well against our key markets, overcoming some demand weakness and demonstrating once again the strength of our businesses, strong market positions and leading technology.

“Looking forward, we expect 2016 to be a year of good growth, helped by the contribution from Fokker.”

The business said it expects organic sales at its aerospace unit will be “broadly flat” this year, “as some aircraft programmes run down and others ramp up”. Though overall, the firm expects this division will grow, helped by sales from its new Fokker purchase.

It said global car production is forecast to rise by 3 per cent, with increases from China, the US, Europe and India, but Brazil is expected to show a sharp decline.

The firm, which makes drive shafts for almost half of all new cars, expects its auto business to grow above the market average.

But it said Land Systems is expected to fall further due to weakening agricultural and construction equipment markets.

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