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Original Source: FD (FAIR DISCLOSURE) WIRE
OPERATOR: Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to today's BPB trading update conference call. [OPERATOR INSTRUCTIONS]. I'd now like to hand you over to your chairperson for today, Mr. Richard Cousins. Please go ahead sir, and I shall be standing by.
RICHARD COUSINS, GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE, BPB PLC: Thank you. Good morning ladies and gentlemen and welcome to the BPB Plc conference call to discuss the full year trading update. I also have with me Paul Hollingworth, our Finance Director, who I will ask to talk through the financial highlights before I finish on the trading highlights and summary. First, I would like to make a brief comment on the results before handing over to Paul.
BPB will deliver an excellent full year performance, with underlying profit advancing by some 28% to about [pounds sterling]285m, with good progress across all 3 regions, driven by sustained positive trends in sales volumes and pricing levels in most of our key markets. Over to Paul.
PAUL HOLLINGWORTH, FINANCE DIRECTOR, BPB PLC: Thank you Richard. Turnover will be up 10% in local currency, driven by volume growth and improved selling prices were up 6%, after taking into the account the impact of currency translation. Underlying profit before tax will be up by 28% around [pounds sterling]285m, with the impact of adverse currency translation broadly offsetting the benefit of lower restructuring charges.
European operating profits, which account for over 70% of Group operating profits, are expected to be up more than 10%, and this is after booking an additional [pounds sterling]6m of UK pension costs.
North American profits will be up nearly 75% despite significant cost inflation. This is due to improved selling prices and volumes, and is after restructuring and patent protection costs, which mainly impacted the second half. Rest of the world continues to perform well with profits up more than 20%, driven by a strong performance from a buoyant South African market and good volume growth in Asia.
Cash generation remains strong, notwithstanding significantly higher capital expenditure and the buyout of time in the minorities, with year-end net debt expected to be below the previous year-end level of [pounds sterling]495m.
Thank you, and over to Richard for the trading highlights and outlook.
RICHARD COUSINS: Thank you Paul. Plasterboard volumes continue to grow by about 5% with progress across Europe, South Africa, Asia and North America. The selling price environment has been positive, allowing us to more than offset commodity cost inflation. In the US prices have moved strongly ahead, increasing by around 25% over the comparable period, averaging about $117 per thousand square feet for the year, and are currently spotting at around $122.
Building plaster volumes have continued to increase, are up by more than 6%, with good growth in the British Isles and increased demand in Spain for lightweight plasters. BPB recently announced a further, substantial long-term plasterboard liner supply agreement, resulting in the likely closure of the Group's remaining paper mill located at Aberdeen in Scotland. Involving an estimated pre-tax exceptional charge of around [pounds sterling]35m.
And finally, we are investing to support BPB's profitable growth, primarily focusing on the development of a new information system. And the addition of extra management resources to support the capacity expansion program.
That concludes our comments, and I'd now like to hand you back to Elliot before we get on to the questions.
OPERATOR: Thank you very much, sir. [OPERATOR INSTRUCTIONS]. Thank you sir. Your first question comes from Charlie Campbell of UBS in London. Please go ahead, sir.
CHARLIE CAMPBELL, ANALYST, UBS: Hi there. Good morning everyone.