Belfast Telegraph

Company report: Caterpillar (NI) - generating better pre-tax profits

Caterpillar (NI) is the renamed FG Wilson (Engineering), which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the American Caterpillar Corporation.

The firm is the largest manufacturer in Europe of diesel and gas generating sets and associated equipment. In September 2012 the company announced that it was transferring the manufacture of smaller generator sets from Larne to its plant in China.

The Northern Ireland-registered company has a large assembly factory in Larne and also consolidates the trading results of its world-wide subsidiaries registered outside Northern Ireland.

The company has recently announced investment in the addition of a new specialist vehicle product to its local activities. This was signalled in the annual directors' report, which said the company was working to identify new opportunities to expand its local manufacturing base, beyond the historic electric power products.

The trading results for 2012 reflected a continuing recovery from a sharp fall in 2009, followed by a steady improvement in the following years to a new peak in 2012.

Operating profits fell in 2011 to produce an operating loss of over £5m. In 2011 the company reported it was taking steps to ensure its products continued to compete effectively in the international marketplace. This led to the announcement that the jobs of 760 people might disappear.

Results for 2012 were less dramatic in terms of employment, which fell by 200 people to an average of 2,718 people. The trading results showed a return to operating and pre-tax profits.

Capital spending by the group of £3.2m in 2012 was lower than the higher levels in the preceding years.

One noticeable feature of the balance sheet in December 2012 is the need to carry large stocks of materials and finished products. The value at the end of 2012, at £78.5m, was £14m lower than a year earlier, but represented nearly 10% of the value of annual turnover, or equivalent to two weeks of production value.

The balance sheet value of the shareholders' funds rose to nearly £139m in December 2012. The group retained post-tax profits to its profit and loss reserves and no dividends were paid directly to the parent company.

Belfast Telegraph