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Rolls-Royce says on track for full-year

Thursday, July 31 08:27:47

Engine maker Rolls-Royce said it was on track to return to growth next year, after reporting an expected 20 percent drop in first-half profit due to shrinking defence spending, currency headwinds and difficulties in its marine unit.

Rolls, the world's second-largest maker of aircraft engines behind U.S. group General Electric, on Thursday posted underlying pretax profit of 644 million pounds in the six months to the end of June, compared to a consensus forecast of 607 million pounds.

The company said it was maintaining its guidance for profit to be flat this year. In 2013 it made 1.76 billion pounds in pretax profits, and the company said in May that its performance this year would be weighted two-thirds to the second half.

Rolls alarmed investors in February by announcing there would be a pause in profit growth in 2014, ending a decade of continuous rises, as the company absorbed the impact of declining U.S. and European military budgets.

The improvement in the second half would be driven by higher revenues and cost reductions, Rolls said.

"While there are challenges, we maintain our full-year guidance for the Group," Chief Executive John Rishton said in a statement.

Amongst those challenges are difficulties in its marine business, which supplies power systems to ships, where profit was seen down a further 15 percent to 25 percent this year but would be compensated at the group level by improvements elsewhere.

Rolls also increased its interim dividend by 5 percent to 9 pence per share. (Reuters)

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