Ardagh, the Irish glass packaging group which is closing its Ringsend plant, saw pre-tax profits plummet to €2.4 million last year compared with €8.9 million in 2000.
Trading profits fell from €37.5 million to €26.2 million on turnover of €304.3 million down from €319.8 million the previous year.
Ardagh, which is headed up by Paul Coulson, said unfavourable currency movements and reduced Irish turnover accounted for €10 million of the fall-off in sales.The company has declared a reduced final dividend of two cents, saying it needs to keep cash aside to meet the cost of closing its bottle plant at Ringsend in Dublin.
Profit after taxation was halved to €2.4 million from €4.9 million, while operating cash flows after financing and tax fell to €47.9 million from €63.4 million.Earnings per share fell to 33.47 from 40.01.
Trading profit halved from €26.2 million to €11.3 million compared to 2001.
Exchange rate movements and the deterioration in the performance of Irish Glass accounted for around €7 million of this decline.
Operating margins in the UK were also somewhat reduced reflecting pricing pressure from over-capacity.
Net interest charge excluding exceptional items was down to €22 million compared with €25.5 million last year.
Cash interest paid was down from €13.8 million to €12.6 million.
Net debt in Ardagh's UK subsidiary Rockware declined from £178.1 million at the end of 2000 to £166.6 million at the end of 2001.
Ardagh said the performance in Rockware in the UK was satisfactory considering the difficult market conditions and margins continued under pressure during the year.
"There are some signs that the persistent overcapacity in the UK market is being reduced and pricing pressures from European overcapacity are easing," and Ardagh spokesman said.
The company added that "the UK is currently trading in line with a budget that envisages improved profitability over 2001 levels." It added that "capacity is fully utilised and modest price improvements are being achieved." Ardagh said that turnover and margins in Ireland declined further in 2001 due to a combination of downward pressure on selling prices and rapidly increasing costs.
"The Irish Glass operation has been loss-making since the third quarter and the losses continue to increase," Ardagh said.