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Fenner Surges to 21-Year High on ‘Sharp’ Profitability Increase

Fenner Plc, the world’s largest conveyor-belt maker, rose to the highest price since at least 1989 in London trading after reporting increased first-quarter profitability as the global recovery boosted orders.

Fenner surged as much as 30.3 pence, or 8.5 percent, to 385 pence, the biggest intraday jump since Sept. 9, and traded at 382.5 pence as of 12:37 p.m. The stock has more than doubled in the past year, giving the company a market value of about 735 million pounds ($1.15 billion).

“The business has seen a sharp increase in first-quarter profitability compared to the slower trading period of the prior year,” the Hessle, northern England-based company said in a statement today. Gains were helped by the conveyor-belting division, with “strong order books,” and the advanced engineered products division, where “activity levels were ahead of those experienced before the downturn.”

The conveyor-belting division has made market share gains in the Americas and European countries on the Mediterranean border, Finance Director Richard Perry said in a telephone interview before the company’s annual general meeting in London today. Fenner is “looking at further plant capacity” in continental Europe to fulfill “a very good order horizon,” he said, declining to give more details.

The company has also expanded its servicing operations to complement sales, Perry said.

In addition to further bolt-on acquisitions in conveyor-belt services, a “main thrust for the group is to develop its medical arm in North America,” Perry said.

Nick Hobson, divisional managing director of the company’s advanced engineered products unit, will replace Mark Abrahams as chief executive officer on March 1. Abrahams will replace Colin Cooke, who is retiring as chairman on the same date.

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