Morgan Crucible came through 2004 still deep in the red, but with its debts reduced by £100 million and with a "profit recovery" starting to deliver results in its on-going operations.
Leaving aside a £42.8 million loss on the sale of the auto and consumer division last June and £ 58.7 million of exceptional operating cost arising from " profit improvement" moves, there was an underlying profit of £41.5 million last year, up from an equivalent £26.9 million in 2003.
Turnover slipped to £ 795 . 9 million from £849.6 million.
With a net debt of £147.5 million at the yearend, down from £249.3 million, the balance sheet was 61.4 per cent geared against 96 per cent a year earlier. A rights issue last February accounted for £ 54.1 million of the improvement and disposals for another £24.3 million.
Warren Knowlton, chief executive, said "We are delivering on the commitments that we made to our shareholders a year ago --namely to achieve target cost savings and profit improvement opportunities of up to £50 million by the end of 2006.
"We are making good progress in rationalising the group and in creating a strong core from which to grow profitably. These results indicate that we have the capability to grow the top line as well as to deliver on our cost rationalisation."
There is still no dividend, and the board said only that it intends to resume pay-outs once the company is achieving a level of sustained profitability and cash generation.
The stock market, though, was reassured. After some hesitation first thing, the shares went ahead to finish 7p higher at 187p, their highest price for more than a year.
Mr Knowlton said Morgan spent £32 million in cash on profit improvement projects last year. Another £20 million will follow in 2005.
The programme is now focused on its three larger divisions, magnetics, insulating ceramics and carbon. Key businesses are continuing to recover, he added, particularly in magnetics and technical ceramics.