Speciality chemicals and precious metals group, Johnson Matthey, said it made a “strong start” to the year to March 2009, with both revenue and profit ahead in the first quarter.
Buoyed by robust markets in Asia and strong platinum prices, overall revenue grew 33 per cent in the quarter to June 2008, while sales - excluding precious metals - increased 12 per cent, lifting profit before tax and amortisation by 22 per cent, chairman John Banham said in an AGM statement.
“The second quarter has begun well and the group has a strong order book. We are benefiting from increasing global demand for products which reduce pollution and protect the environment,” he said.
Mr Banham also expected pretax profit in the first half to September 2008 to be “well ahead”, owing to increased demand for its pollution-control catalyst devices for cars.
The slowdown in North America that has effected the company’s performance was offset by higher quarterly sales and profits at the Environmental Technologies division, reflecting strong demand in Asia.
In February, Johnson Matthey bought Argillon Group, the manufacturer of catalysts and advanced ceramics materials which for 214 million euros. The deal lifted the group’s borrowings and interest in the quarter.
Argillon made an “encouraging initial contribution” as demand for catalysts used to reduce the emission of harmful nitrogen oxides grew across a range of markets, Johnson Matthey reported.
The precious metal products division also performed well, benefiting from high prices of platinum group metals, while the Fine Chemicals & Catalysts division made a “good start” to the year with increased volumes and sales.
Johnson Matthey last month secured a further £100 million loan from the European Investment Bank to support its increased research and development spending.