Despite the slow Christmas in the shops, which hit sales of Metalrax's bathroom and kitchen items, the Birmingham company's engineering and storage products operations picked up in the second half-year to push the fullyear profit ahead of 2003.
A profit of £6.88 million in the second six months, up from £6.33 million, carried the total for 2004 to £ 12.11 million against £12.05 million last time.
A slightly lower tax charge also helped earnings to cover an unchanged dividend 1.31 times, after 1.26 times the year before.
Richard Arbuthnot, the new chief executive, described that cover as "too low".
"I would certainly like to get back to 1.6 times or above," he said.
The shares touched 88p after the results, but slipped back to finish only 1/2p higher at 86p, equivalent to 12.2 times the year's earnings, where they yield 6.3 per cent.
Metalrax ended 2004 with £10.35 million of clear cash in its balance sheet, after paying £1.75 million to buy Premier Stairways.
Stocks also absorbed more working capital, partly because of disappointing Christmas sales of housewares, partly to fund larger steel stocks bought ahead of a January price increase.
Since the year-end it has paid another £4 million for Cooper Coated Coil in West Bromwich and invested £1.25 million to buy a new coating line for the Fabricote subsidiary.
"The return should be pretty good environmentally and commercially," Mr Arbuthnot said.
"We have several millions in hand and we are looking at acquisitions."