Today's Falling Knife: Cookson Crashes 15%

Cookson (ISE: CKSN.L) crashed 92 pence, or 15%, to 523 pence this morning to become one of the session's heaviest casualties in early London trade.

The FTSE 250 member, which supplies specialist materials and chemicals to the steel and electronics industries, today confessed full-year profits were now expected to be "materially below" the company's previous expectations.

Cookson said its "engineered ceramics" division, which accounted for two-thirds of profits during the first half of the year, had experienced weaker-than-forecast market trends and trading.

The mid-cap revealed that September had seen production volumes weaken at its U.S., European, and Brazilian steel customers. In addition, the group claimed there had been a "further general slowdown" in sectors such as construction, mining, and agricultural equipment, which curtailed demand for its foundry-related products.

Cookson confirmed management action had been taken to respond to the "difficult trading environment," including a reduction of temporary workers and the curtailing of discretionary costs.

Looking on the bright side, Cookson said trading within its performance materials division and precious metals processing operation had been in line with expectations.

Long-term Cookson shareholders will know today is not the first time this FTSE 250 share has owned up to a profit shortfall.

In particular, a profit alert was issued during the depths of the banking crash in late 2008 and, by early 2009, group sales had collapsed by a third and profits had plunged to breakeven.

As a result of the 2008/2009 troubles, the shares dived from 1,167 pence to just 112 pence, but the price then went on to rally to as high as 748 pence.

Such potential falls and rebounds suggest it may pay to keep an eye on Cookson -- further bad news may create another opportunity to enjoy an enormous share price recovery.

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