Fisher shares fall 25% amid loss, lack of dividend

Shares of Barrow-in-Furness international marine engineering company James Fisher and Sons plc fell about 25% on Thursday after it published results for a “challenging and disappointing” 2021 and said it will not pay a dividend.

James Fisher said its revenue fell 4.7% to £494.1 million and it made a loss before tax of £29 million compared to a £52.5 million loss in 2020.

Underlying profit before tax fell 37.5% to £19.7 million.

James Fisher shares are down almost 70% for the past year.

Revenue declined by 4.7% to £494.1m … driven by the Marine Support division being £34.9m (14.0%) behind 2020,” said James Fisher.

“Within Marine Support, the Fendercare ship-to-ship transfer revenues were some 36% behind a record year in 2020.

“Underlying operating profit fell by 30.9% to £28.0m (2020: £40.5m) with the profitability of our Fendercare, JFD and Tankships businesses being particularly challenged.

“As a result of those performance challenges, combined with a high level of financial leverage, the company did not pay an interim dividend for 2021 and the board is not recommending the payment of a final dividend for the year.

“The board recognises the importance of paying dividends and is committed to reinstating the dividend when appropriate.

There is no doubt that the performance of James Fisher has been impacted by Covid-19 over the past couple of years, but this is not the sole reason for the company’s recent poor performance.

The company has in the past made a number of acquisitions which have enhanced earnings per share in the short term, but which have contributed to an increase in debt levels and a long-term decline in return on capital employed.

“Poor performance in a number of these acquired businesses, combined with weakness in trading in our traditional Tankships, Fendercare and JFD businesses, led to a disappointing financial performance in 2021 and a high level of debt.

“Our over-riding short term priorities are; firstly to reduce our debt and optimise our portfolio through a series of disposals; and secondly to focus on improving our operational and financial performance.

In 2021 we sold the Paladin dive support vessel and the Materials Testing and NDT businesses.

“Looking forward, we have reviewed our portfolio with a view to executing further disposals to both reduce debt and to optimise the portfolio and simplify the group by refocusing on markets where James Fisher can deliver sustained, differentiated value to our customers.”

James Fisher CEO Eoghan O’Lionaird: 2021 was a challenging and disappointing year for the group.

“We experienced ongoing disruption from the global pandemic, our markets did not recover at expected rates, and we underestimated the headwinds faced by some of our businesses …

“Having sold Paladin and two of our businesses, during 2022 we will continue to optimise our portfolio to focus on businesses where we have a competitive advantage, strong growth prospects and attractive returns …

“Performance in January and February 2022 was in line with management’s expectations.

“The full year outcome will be influenced by ship-to-ship transfer business performance; JFD securing new project wins from its pipeline; the strength of our subsea business during the busy mid-year period, our ability to manage inflationary pressures on the cost base; and the uncertainty arising from the current geopolitical environment.

About the Author

Mark McSherry
Dalriada Media LLC sites are edited by veteran news journalist Mark McSherry, a former staff editor and reporter with Reuters, Bloomberg and major newspapers including the South China Morning Post, London's Sunday Times and The Scotsman. McSherry's journalism has also appeared in The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times, London's Evening Standard and Forbes. McSherry is also a professor of journalism and communication arts in universities and colleges in New York City. Scottish-born McSherry has an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a Certificate in Global Affairs from New York University.