- Marine engineering contractor James Fisher and Sons scrapped its interim dividend and downgraded its annual guidance after its first-half underlying earnings fell by more than a third.

Pre-tax profit for the six months through June actually increased to £8.1 million, up from £7.1 million year-on-year, thanks to the $17.3 million sale of the Palandin dive support vessel.

But underlying pre-tax profit slumped 39% to £9.2 million, as revenue dropped 9.5% to £233.7 million.

James Fisher and Sons had declared an interim dividend of 8p per share in the previous corresponding period.

It said the poorer first-half results were in line with its expectations, against a backdrop of end markets that remained impacted by Covid-19.

The second quarter, it added, had shown a marked improvement compared to the first quarter.

'The group is expecting performance to improve during the second half as our end markets recover from the disruption caused by the effects of the global pandemic,' chief executive Eoghan O'Lionaird said.

'However, we experienced weaker-than-anticipated trading in Fendercare and lower short-cycle order intake at JFD during the important summer period and this, combined with project suspensions in Mozambique, lead the board to now expect underlying operating profit for 2021 to be around the same level as that achieved in 2020.'

'Looking beyond 2021, forward-looking order books in our long-cycle businesses are strengthening following high levels of tendering activity and contract wins year-to-date which gives the board confidence in the group's future prospects. '

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