James Halstead Lifts Dividend 12.2%

LONDON -- In a refreshing preliminary update this morning, the chief executive of vinyl floor specialist James Halstead (ISE: JHD.L) , Mark Halstead, said, "I am pleased to report, yet again, record turnover and record profit; and I shall never tire of saying record dividends."

Revenue was up 5.8% to 226.3 million pounds from 2011's 213.9 million pounds, while pre-tax profit came in at 42.7 million pounds, up 11% from the previous year's figure of 38.5 million pounds and a "record achievement" for the company. Operating profit increased to 42.2 million pounds, a 10.2% rise on 2011's 38.3 million pounds.

The results credited the building work associated with the Olympics venues as contributing to the firm's series of records, although chairman Geoffrey Halstead stressed that the company performed well despite a challenging year:

The U.K. economy, and many of our international markets, faced difficulties with every manufacturer looking for volume growth and pricing was set ever keener to achieve that volume. Notwithstanding these competitive pressures our U.K. turnover rose 2.9% and our overseas turnover by 7.3%. We have seen modest revenue growth in comparison to previous years, but I think this very commendable in the prevailing market conditions.

On the outlook for the company, Mark Halstead said:

The long established strategy for success that we have followed will be continued. We focus on customer service, product development and design. Our sales teams focus on specifications, contractor and distributor satisfaction and end users.

When I note projects such as the Pascua Lama Mining camp 4,500 million above sea level in the Andes where Polyflor vinyl sheet has been installed, and the Airbus HQ in Toulouse that has installed our Karndean FreeLine I remain confident that our core markets will grow and that we will continue to ensure productivity and quality are the focus.

The forthcoming year will see two or three key global range launches that will enhance our product offer and I am confident will drive our continued progress.

Shareholders will be pleased to hear that earnings per share at the AIM-listed company increased 11.7%, with a final dividend of 11 pence per share proposed -- up 12.2% from 2011's figure of 9.8 pence. On the news, shares were up 2.4% at the time of writing to 642 pence.

Indeed, 10 years ago, these shares traded at just 55 pence. Smart investors who spotted James Halstead's growth potential back then have since earned a near 12-fold gain -- equivalent to a superb 23% annual compound average return.

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