Shares in Bell Equipment fell almost 7 percent yesterday after the manufacturer of heavy equipment for construction and mining reported a drop in profit for the year to last December. The reduction in import duty rebates from the Motor Industry Development Programme, a 6.1 percent drop in gross profit margins due to greater competition in a declining market after the economic turmoil locally and overseas and increased overheads because of higher labour, fuel and electricity costs were blamed for the drop in profit. Bell Equipment reported an 18 percent decline in after tax profit to R243 million in the year to December, which translated into earnings a share also dropping 18 percent to R2.37. Revenue improved by 12 percent to R5.67 billion but profit from operating activities fell 16 percent to R364.9m. A dividend of 40c a share was declared.
Chief executive Gary Bell said the group had a growing order book, which boded well. The shares closed 6.93 percent lower at R23.50 yesterday. – Roy Cokayne