* Orders for conveyor belts improving in Australia
* Newer markets helping to offset weakness in U.S., Russia,
* Says yet to benefit from improving trends in U.S. coal
* First-half pretax profit falls 32 pct, revenue 8 pct
* Shares rise as much as 6 pct
(Adds analyst comment, details, share movement)
April 23 Fenner Plc, a maker of
conveyor belts that has been hit by a slowdown in the global
mining industry, said orders were picking up in Australia and in
newer markets such as South America, helping to offset weakness
in the U.S. coal industry.
Shares of the company, which reported a 32 percent drop in
first-half pretax profit, rose as much as 6 percent on the
London Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
Fenner said it had yet to benefit from improving trends in
the U.S. energy industry, such as rising natural gas prices and
reductions in utility coal stockpiles.
However, the company said these trends were expected to lead
to an increase in coal production and demand for its products.
"...The (conveyor belt) division should be poised to see
improving organic growth across the year," UBS analyst Robbie
Capp said in a note to clients.
Fenner has been counting on newer markets such as South
America, the Middle East and Africa to make up for weak demand
in the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the UK.
Revenue fell 8 percent to 359.8 million pounds the six
months ended Feb. 28, with the conveyor belt division accounting
for about 65 percent.
Fenner said the division was benefiting from Australia's
record shipments of iron ore and coal.
The company also makes polymeric products, ranging from
hearing aid parts to components for oil and gas handling
equipment. Revenue in this division is expected to improve in
the second half, helped improved demand from customers in the
oil and gas business, Fenner said.
"Fenner is now seeing more encouraging signals and a
recovery looks more likely within the next year..." Investec
analyst Michael Blogg said in a note to clients.
Fenner said it would pay an interim dividend of 4 pence per
share, up from 3.75 pence last year.
Shares in Fenner, an FTSE-250 component, were up 5.2
percent at 410 pence on the London Stock Exchange at 1140 GMT.
(Reporting by Aashika Jain in Bangalore; Editing by Ted Kerr)