Fiberweb reports that like-for-like trading volumes are ahead by 3.5% for the January 1-May 1 period of 2012. Stronger volumes in civil engineering accessories and a pick-up in US construction have returned the geosynthetics division to profit and compensated for flat volumes in technical fabrics, where increased demand in technical specialties and in the continuing hygiene business has offset a slow start in European construction.
Although margins have been constrained by product mix, inventory reduction and a sharp increase in raw material prices, pricing actions and the usual contractual pass-through arrangements will benefit the second quarter.
Renewed efforts to reduce working capital have contributed to strong cash flow and will improve returns on capital; 2012 capital expenditures are first-half weighted and the new needlepunch project in Maldon remains on track for completion during the first half.
Non-recurring charges in 2012 arise from the implementation of cost reductions, the Terram integration and swap and foreign exchange costs on repayment of the group’s debt at the beginning of the year. These charges are expected to be less than £10 million in total and will arise primarily in the first half.