Cookson issues profits warning after weak trading

 

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Cookson, the engineering company, has warned of a sharp downturn in business at one of its key divisions.

Trading in its Ceramics operation had been "weaker" than previously thought, sending the firm's shares down 14.4%.

Cookson said in a statement that it meant full year trading for the whole group was now likely be "materially below previous expectations".

Cookson, which employs 15,500 staff, supplies material for the steel, electronics, and solar industries.

The company said that in the three months to 7 October trading in two other divisions, Precious Metals and Performance Materials, was in line with expectations.

But the Ceramics business, which accounts for the bulk of revenues, had suffered from a slowdown in Europe and China. The operation was particularly hit by "very depressed" trading in the global solar industry.

The company said the downturn in steel production was sharper than normal in July and August. In Europe, steel output fell 11%, and in the US it was down 3%, according the World Steel Association. Cookson said there were signs of further weakening in the market in September.

According to a Thomson Reuters survey of 17 analysts, Cookson was expected to report pre-tax profit of about £248m for 2012, down from £261.5m in 2011. Analysts are now expected to revise down their estimates.

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