StockMarketWire.com - Chemicals company Johnson Matthey cut its dividend, but touted improved performance in its key markets even as profit slumped in the first half of the year.

'Activity in autos and other key markets has improved since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and we expect a materially stronger second half in comparison to the first half of this year,' the company said.

For the six months ended 30 September, pre-tax profit fell 88% to £26 million year-on-year, while revenue was up 2% to £6.8bn, driven by higher average precious metal prices.

The fall in profit was pressured by lower demand in its clean air business and major impairment and restructuring charges of £78 million, the company said.

The company cut its interim dividend by 18% of 20.0 pence per share. In its efficient natural resources business, full year operating performance was expected to be below the prior year, but higher in its health business.

The company said it had appointed Karen Hayzen-Smith, currently Group financial controller, as interim chief financial officer.

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