Belgium's Sioen says 2008 pretax falls 82 pct
BRUSSELS, March 19 (Reuters) - Belgian speciality textile group Sioen Industries (SIOE.BR) reported an 82.2 percent nosedive in 2008 net profit, missing market expectations and prompting it to slash its dividend, and gave a cautious outlook for the future.
The company's bottom line was dented by a drop in sales for its coating division, which sank 11.3 percent from 2007, its chemicals division which dropped 13.6 percent and its industrial applications division, which serves the automobile and transportation industries and plunged 16.7 percent.
"We are working hard to defend our market positions and maintain rigorous cost control," Sioen said in a statement on Thursday March 19, noting it was difficult to look ahead given the current macro-economic climate.
"We are closely following all new developments in our markets and are confident that, with our flexibility and our financial and shareholder structure, we will emerge stronger from this period," it added.
Net profit fell to 3.4 million euros ($4.6 million) against an average forecast of 4.7 million according to analysts polled by Reuters Estimates.
Sales dropped 8.1 percent to 349.4 million euros, against an average forecast of 352.5 million.
"This fall is due entirely to the economic slowdown in the last quarter of the year," Sioen said.
Core profit, or earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, fell 41.5 percent to 37.7 million euros against an an average forecast of 40.3 million.
Sioen said it would propose a dividend of 0.08 euros per share, against a 0.45 euro dividend in 2007. (Reporting by Anne Jolis; Editing by David Holmes)