Barrow’s James Fisher unveils new strategy

Shares of Barrow-in-Furness international marine engineering company James Fisher and Sons plc fell as much as 5% on Tuesday as it published a trading update showing its ship-to-ship transfer market “remains challenging” and is currently trading below previous expectations.

James Fisher also unveiled a new strategy that plans to leverage the group’s “fundamental strengths in marine services” and  refocus its portfolio on niche sectors, address “underperforming assets and businesses” and accelerate investments into “responsible energy transition.”

The company said it plans to reduce leverage in the short term through the sale of non-core assets and reintroduce “a progressive and sustainable dividend policy at the right time.”

James Fisher’s biggest shareholders include UK investment giants Baillie Gifford, Schroders and Abrdn.

On trading, James Fisher said: “Offshore Oil has continued to perform well, with tendering and contract wins in oil and gas decommissioning projects growing strongly.

“There are encouraging signs of a return to more normalised volumes in Tankships and the Specialist Technical division is trading in line with management’s expectations.

“In Marine Support, the ship-to-ship transfer market remains challenging and is currently trading below our previous expectations, however we are seeing further improvements in Marine Contracting with recent wins in offshore wind projects at St. Brieuc and Fécamp off the French coast and Sofia in the Dogger Bank.

The group has maintained its focus on managing net debt.

“As anticipated, H1 will show a working capital outflow.

“This is principally due to larger projects within the Specialist Technical division moving towards milestones and invoicing in H2.

“The group continues to believe that it is on track to deliver improved underlying operating profit over that achieved in 2020, with profits anticipated to be more weighted to the second half of the year than historically.

“The new strategy announced today is designed to begin realising the inherent potential of the group for this and future years.”

The company said its new strategy will focus on growing a portfolio of niche businesses with leading market positions and strong barriers to entry and maintaining focus on attractive and growing segments in marine, energy and defence markets.

James Fisher CEO Eoghan O’Lionaird said: We have reset our strategy to reinforce our strengths and realise our full potential.

“This strategy leverages the group’s fundamental strengths in marine services, with a renewed focus on driving better future performance and returns for all stakeholders.

“Our goal is to improve the quality of our business by focusing on structurally growing markets, improving operating margins and returns, and sustainably delivering enhanced value for all our stakeholders.”