James Fisher shares fall 22% amid ‘challenging’ trading

Shares of Barrow-in-Furness international marine engineering company James Fisher and Sons plc plunged 22% on Friday after it published a trading update for the quarter ended September 30, 2020.

“Trading in the third quarter continued to be challenging as the group did not see the improvement to trading conditions and the seasonal uplift it had been anticipating at the half year results,” said Fisher.

“As a result, revenue for the nine months ended 30 September 2020 was 17% lower than the comparable period last year.

“Stringent cost control has reduced selling, general and administration costs by 17% to date compared to 2019.

“The board now anticipates underlying operating profit for the full year, before separately disclosed items, to be in the range of £35m-£40m.

“Due in large part to Covid-19 restrictions, especially in the UK, the Middle East and southern Africa, revenue in marine support continued to be impacted by project delays and cancellations in subsea projects in both Renewables and oil & gas.

“In response a further restructuring programme has been implemented in marine support and the carrying value of the asset base is under review.   

“Elsewhere, the group performed with resilience in the period. 

“Within marine support, ship-to-ship traded in line with our expectations in the quarter.

“In specialist technical, good progress was made on approval and testing milestones on the supply of six swimmer delivery vehicles and separately a 500-metre saturation diving system. 

“Offshore oil remained resilient in the quarter and performed in line with management expectations.

“Tankships improved month on month following the sharp drop in utilisation in April due to lockdown, and fleet utilisation was just below 90% in September.

“Net borrowings were in line with expectations at 30 September and headroom under committed revolving credit facilities was c. £96m.

“The group is diversified geographically and by end market and continues to be resilient and profitable in the most challenging of market conditions.

“Swift actions taken to reduce costs and to improve liquidity, position James Fisher for an improvement in market conditions and the group remains well placed to deliver future growth for its shareholders.”