Volex shares plummet on profit warning

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Volex, the electrical cable maker that counts financier Nat Rothschild as its largest shareholder, lost a third of its market value on Friday after issuing its second profit warning in as many months.

London-based Volex said it had suffered a “softening of demand across all sectors as well as delays in specific project timelines” and cut its revenue forecast for the year to March 2013 to $470m-$485m.

The company also slashed its forecast for full year normalised operating profit to $11m-$14m – a decrease of more than 50 per cent from what analysts had been expecting.

Investors dumped the company’s shares, sending them down 37 per cent to close at 89p in London.

Volex said the decline in demand for its products in recent weeks did not include its largest customer, which is believed to be Apple.

In September, Volex issued a profit warning following a decision by Apple to use a USB interface for its new iPhone and iPad charger, rather than the “duckhead” interface made by Volex.

With sales sliding, Volex has started to shake up its senior management. The company announced on Monday that its finance director, Andrew Cherry, would be leaving the company.

Mr Cherry will be replaced by Daniel Abrams, a former finance director Fiberweb, a manufacturer of specialist fabrics, Volex said on Friday.

Meanwhile, Karen Slatford, a non-executive director at Volex and a former head of sales at Hewlett-Packard, will be promoted to the role of deputy chairman as part of a drive to boost revenues.

Thomas Rands, analyst at Investec, said: “It’s obviously a disappointment that sales aren’t coming through but management are making efforts to reduce costs and restructure.”

In the year to April 2012, the company’s revenue was $518m and normalised operating profit was $32m.

Volex has given investors a wild ride over the past decade or so, seeing its shares trade above £21 during the dotcom boom before collapsing to lose 98 per cent of their value after the internet bubble burst.

The latest fall in Volex’s market value since the start of 2012 has dealt a blow to Nat Rothschild’s NR Investments, which owns 24 per cent of the company.

Mr Rothschild is already under pressure due to his holding in Bumi, the Indonesian coal miner company whose shares have lost more than three-quarters of their value since listing in London in 2010.

Mr Rothschild resigned from Bumi’s board last month, following a year in which the group has been rocked by corporate governance disputes.

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