UPDATE 2-Spectris sees 40 mln stg hit on sales from strong pound in H2
* Pound strength could impact H2 operating profit by 8 mln stg - CEO
* H1 pretax profit falls 10 pct
* Shares fall as much as 6.6 pct (Adds CEO comments, analysts' comments, share movement)
By Aashika Jain
July 25 (Reuters) - Electrical equipment maker Spectris Plc's sales could take "a hit" of up to 40 million pounds ($68 million) in the second half if exchange rates for the pound against major currencies stay near current levels, CEO John O'Higgins said.
The impact on operating profit would likely be about 8 million pounds, O'Higgins said in an interview on Friday.
Spectris, which gets most of its revenue from outside the UK, took a currency hit of about 36 million pounds on sales and 4 million pounds at the operating level in the first half, he said.
The company's shares fell as much as 6.6 percent in morning trading, making the stock the top loser on the London Stock Exchange's FTSE midcap index.
Spectris specialises in testing and control equipment, supplying the mining, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and transportation industries.
The company reported a 10 percent slump in first-half pretax profit, hurt by lower demand in the mining and academic research sectors, the main markets for its materials analysis unit, as well as by the pound's strength.
Pretax profit fell to 67.3 million pounds, from 75 million pounds a year earlier, while sales dropped to 539.8 million pounds from 566.2 million pounds last year.
O'Higgins noted that the pound was 8 percent stronger on average in the latest half compared with the same period of 2013.
The materials analysis unit makes devices that determine the structure, composition and quality of particles during research and production processes.
The weakness in the business continued in the second quarter and could not be offset by the performance of the company's three other units, as happened in the first quarter, he said.
The company's other divisions are test and measurement, in-line instrumentation and industrial controls.
Investec analysts described the results in the materials analysis business as "horrible."
"...The company says it expects H2 expectations to be met, but we initially expect to reduce our estimates by 10 percent for FY14E, and perhaps a bit more," Investec analysts Michael Blogg and Chris Dyett said in client note.
Numis analysts, highlighting the weakness in the materials analysis division, cut their rating on the stock to "hold" from "add".
Spectris said it expected its recent acquisitions to contribute at least 4 percentage points of sales growth in the materials analysis unit in the second half.
The company has made three acquisitions this year to strengthen its exposure to life sciences.
Shares in Egham, Surrey-based Spectris were down 6.6 percent at 1,956 pence at 1028 GMT. (Reporting by Aashika Jain in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Ted Kerr)