SECURITY and surveillance group Petards is confident about its progress after cutting debts and boosting profits in the first half of the year.
The Gateshead company has not only kept hold of business in the defence sector despite big spending cuts in the UK and US but it is winning business in the railway industry.
It saw its profits for the six months to the end of June leap to £22,000 from £5,000 a year ago despite a 10% dip in earnings to £4.7m from £5.2m last year. And the business is looking stronger after reducing its debt to £800,000 in June from 1.8m a year before.
Chairman Tim Wightman said: ”The board remains optimistic about the future. The group has demonstrated its ability to secure significant contracts from blue chip international organisations at a time when there is expected to be an increase in capital investment by operators in the world-wide rail industry.”
The group, which has about 100 staff, has been frustrated at the rate at which it can grow its business because of public spending cuts but is looking to raise money through shares.
The move had been under threat after one of its major shareholders, London-based Water Hall Group, but the move was backed by the majority of investors at its annual meeting last month. But Petards said that the plan “remains under review.”
It has been working to increase its export business and has seen good business for its eyeTrain CCTV system for trains with an £8m order adding to growing income from UK public transport operators.
And the firm, which traditionally performs better in the second half of the year, remains confident, although it saw some of its expected eyeTrain contracts not coming through as quickly as it had hoped.
Wightman said: “We have secured some of the orders that we had been expecting, although they will not now contribute as much to 2012 revenues as we had hoped.
“In addition, other contracts we have been expecting to receive in the third quarter now seem likely to be delayed into 2013. As a result the board presently expects revenues in the second half-year to be slightly ahead of those for the first half-year and the operating performance to be similar to that achieved in 2011.”
Last year the firm quadrupled its profits to £215,000 on revenues up 65% to £12.1m despite a similarly challenging market.
Petards, which doubled in size when it acquired Gateshead-based engineering firm Joyce-Loebl Ltd in 2001, saw work then with the defence industry including a £3m Ministry of Defence contract to supply equipment to help protect military helicopters from being hit by guided missiles.”