Profits up at Ricardo

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Ricardo, the automotive consultancy, survived a collapse in demand from the big three US car makers to report an 11 per cent increase in interim pre-tax profits to £6.2m.

Work on passenger cars for General Motors, Ford and Chrysler dried up as the credit crunch bit. Their contribution to the North American division’s revenues from Detroit fell from 34 to 0.2 per cent of the total. Nevertheless total group revenues for the six months to December 31 were £96.6m (£95.2m), although they would have been £5m lower at constant exchange rates.

Dave Shemmans, chief executive, said sales had been maintained thanks to the diversification strategy already under way in the US, which had brought in increased government and military spending, as well as orders from other areas such as wind farms.

While the German division fell into the red after a decline in the exhaust manufacturing operation, UK performance was strong as orders benefittted from the weakness of sterling. The order book at the end of the half was £108m (£98m).

Basic earnings per share were 10.2p (9.3p) and the interim dividend was increased 3 per cent to 3.2p. The shares closed down more than 10 per cent at 162½p, a 12-month low.

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