Cookson Group Plc (CKSN), the world's biggest maker of ceramic linings for metal smelters, said full- year results will be near the higher end of management forecasts, helped by rising sales at its ceramics unit.
Earnings per share will be at the ``top end'' of a 50 pence to 55 pence range, Chief Executive Officer Nick Salmon said in a telephone interview today. The London-based company posted EPS of 46.6 pence in 2006.
Cookson completed two new plants in China and Poland this year to lower production costs and said another factory will be finished in the first quarter of 2008. The company expects to close its 497 million-pound ($1 billion) purchase of competitor Foseco Plc in the first half to expand in emerging markets, it said today. Return on sales at the Ceramics division, which last year accounted for about 46 percent of sales, will increase by 14 to 16 percent.
``Our end-markets are currently showing good growth and the outlook for worldwide steel production, in particular, remains robust,'' Cookson said in the statement. Revenue growth for ceramics ``has continued to run ahead of global steel production'' in the second half, it said.
Cookson advanced 13 pence, or 2 percent, to 672 pence on the London Stock Exchange. The stock has climbed 7 percent this year, giving the company a market value to 1.4 billion pounds.
The company, which employs more than 13,500 people in 35 countries, will add a further 29 plants in 17 countries to expand the ceramics division if the Foseco acquisition is approved.
The purchase of Foseco is expected to be completed in the first half of 2008 if Cookson receives anti-trust clearances and shareholder approval at both companies. To comply with the law, Cookson must dispose of Foseco's Carbon Bonded Ceramics business to stop the company from gaining too much market share, Salmon said today.
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