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MELBOURNE, Jan 22 AAP

January 22 2013, 3:21PM

Household appliances and cleaning products supplier GUD Holdings has booked a 21 per cent fall in first half net profit and says its well-known Sunbeam appliances brand is feeling pressure from stiff competition.

GUD says most of the sectors in which it trades remain highly competitive.

GUD on Tuesday booked a net profit for the first half of the 2012/13 financial year of $18.19 million, down from $23.04 million in the the prior corresponding period.

GUD said group earnings had fallen as a result of a weak operational result in the company's biggest division, consumer products, which includes Sunbeam and Oates cleaning products.

Underlying earnings before interest and tax in the consumer products division fell 38 per cent to $11.9 million.

"During the (first) half, we experienced challenging trading conditions in our consumer businesses," GUD managing director Ian Campbell said.

Sunbeam experienced the largest decline, hurt by the collapse of appliances retailer Retravision; greater competition from cheaper, lower-quality house brands; and inroads made by European brands seeking to increase sales outside their depressed home markets.

"The consumer business will remain under pressure in the second half, while we introduce our strategic initiatives to strengthen Sunbeam's financial performance," Mr Campbell said.

GUD would seek to strengthen the financial performance of the Sunbeam brand through a cost reduction program, more focused product development and offshore alliances aimed at building scale.

GUD also said that its net profit had been pulled back by $3.6 million in integration and restructuring costs for the Dexion Commercial storage solutions business.

Profit had also been affected by the absence of a dividend from kitchen appliance maker Breville. GUD sold its 19.3 per cent stake in Breville in February 2012.

In the prior corresponding period, Breville contributed a dividend of $1.8 million.

Mr Campbell said that despite the tough competition and lower profits, GUD was in a strong financial position and was seeking acquisition opportunities to drive future growth.

Net debt had fallen substantially since December 2011, and gearing (net debt/equity) was 35 per cent compared to 49 per cent one year ago.

GUD's revenue for the six months to December 31, 2012 was up 0.2 per cent at $311.78 million.

The company declared an interim dividend of 26 cents per share, fully franked, compared to 30 cents in the prior corresponding period.

GUD will also pay a previously-announced special dividend of 10 cents per share, fully franked.

Mr Campbell said GUD intends to pay a further 10 cents-per-share special dividend in conjunction with the company's full year result.

Shares in GUD were 10 cents lower at $8.29 at 1520 AEDT.

By Trevor Chappell