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Hill & Smith cancels dividend due to virus outbreak

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Friday 27 Mar 2020

(Sharecast News) - Hill & Smith said on Friday that it was too early to provide any earnings guidance for the rest of the year and that it was cancelling its dividend due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The company, which supplies infrastructure products and galvanizing services, said it has closed or "materially reduced" activity in roughly half of its UK operations over the last 48 hours. In the US, there has been "some" slowdown in demand, but all businesses remain open.

Revenue and operating profit in the two months to 29 February 2020 were in line with the board's expectations, it said. Since the middle of March, there has been disruption to its French and Indian operations.

Hill & Smith said it was focused on "proactive" cash management, given the increasing level of trading uncertainty. As a result, it has decided to withdraw its recommendation to pay the final dividend at the annual meeting, which has now been delayed from May to June. This decision will be reviewed later in the year once the outlook has become clearer.

The company said it was too early to provide earnings guidance for the rest of the current financial year, "given the evolving nature of the Covid-19 pandemic".

"The board have put in place a number of operational, cost and cash management initiatives to ensure that Hill & Smith remains tightly managed through this period of uncertainty. We will continue to monitor external events closely and will keep the market updated on developments, as appropriate."

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