Johnson expects sales catalyst

Johnson Matthey is the world's biggest maker of autocatalysts
Johnson Matthey is the world's biggest maker of autocatalysts
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Johnson Matthey, the world’s biggest maker of autocatalysts, expects higher European sales of the exhaust emission control devices, will help boost its performance in the next financial year it said in reporting results yesterday.

However, shares in the London-listed firm fell 4 per cent as investors worried about an unexpectedly sharp increase in debt caused by a rise in working capital, which the company said was mostly due to business growth and higher inventories.

“We have seen a £100m improvement in working capital in April and I expect that to improve. We are working on continuing to improve this,” chief executive Robert MacLeod said.

The company reported a 3 per cent rise in its underlying pre-tax profit to £440.1m for the year ended March 31, which it said compared with the consensus forecast from analysts of £437.3m.

It said it will pay a final dividend of 49.5 pence a share, a rise of 4.4 per cent and increasing the total payout for the year by 9 per cent to 68 pence.

In the current year it said it expected “to deliver good underlying growth” with a result which would be “slightly ahead”.

Johnson Matthey has been benefitting in the last few years from stricter EU regulations on vehicle emissions which has boosted sales of its platinum and palladium-based autocatalysts but this has been partially offset by weaker precious metals prices.