UPDATE 2-Weir sees H1 profit up; shares hit 20-yr high

* Sees FY profit about 30 mln stg above view

* Says order input up 16 pct for quarter ended April 2

* Says aftermarket visibility beyond June remains limited

* Shares up as much as 15 pct
(Recasts; adds conference call details, analyst comments)

BANGALORE, April 26 (BestGrowthStock) – British engineer Weir Group
Plc (WEIR.L: ) said it expects first-half profit to be
substantially ahead of the year-ago period, driven by improved
activity levels during the first quarter, sending its shares up
nearly 15 percent to their 20-year high.

Weir, a maker of pumps and valves for the mining, oil and
gas and power generation industry said it anticipates full-year
profit, before items, to be about 30 million pounds ($46.13
million) ahead of its previous expectations.

Robust aftermarket sales would account for 12 million
pounds of the increase, strong sales from its oil and gas unit
would contribute another 12 million pounds, and the rest would
come from favourable raw material prices, Chief Executive Keith
Cochrane said on a call with analysts.

Analysts on average were expecting Weir to post a pretax
profit of 185.1 million pounds on revenue of 1.36 billion
pounds for 2010, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Earlier on Monday, industrial materials firm Cookson
(CKSN.L: ) also raised its outlook for the first half as global
steel production and electronics end-markets grew at a faster
rate than expected. [ID:nSGE63P0GE]

Last week, manufacturing firm IMI (IMI.L: ) said its outlook
for the first half had improved materially, driven by better
demand for commercial vehicles and margin improvements from
cost cuts. [ID:nLDE63L11V]

Analyst Nick Webster of Numis Securities said Weir’s
balance sheet strength gave it scope for acquisitions.

“We estimate Weir has firepower in excess of 400 million
pounds and we would expect the company to complete deals over
the next 12 months,” the analyst, who has a “buy” rating on the
stock, said in a note.

The company said operating profit and margins were up for
the first quarter, helped by higher aftermarket sales, and it
expected the mineral division — the largest part of its
business — to post broadly similar operating profits as seen
last year.

For the quarter ended April 2, Weir said order input
climbed 16 percent from the year-ago period, with aftermarket
orders up 19 percent.

However, Weir said aftermarket visibility beyond June
remained limited and it was too early to forecast any
significant upside in the second half.

Shares of Weir, which competes with Flowserve Corp (FLS.N: )
and Halliburton (HAL.N: ), were up 9.5 percent at 1025 pence at
1108 GMT on Monday on the London Stock Exchange. They touched a
high of 1076 pence earlier in the session.

Money

($1=.6503 Pound)
(Reporting by Anirban Sen in Bangalore; Editing by
Unnikrishnan Nair)

UPDATE 2-Weir sees H1 profit up; shares hit 20-yr high