April 1, 2009 / 6:56 AM / 11 years ago

RPT-UPDATE 1-Johnson Matthey says Q4 trading in line

* Sees full-year EPS in range 85-90 pence

* Autocatalyst sales hit by weak car market

* Closing fine chemical production in Ireland

(Repeats to reach more customers)

LONDON, April 1 (Reuters) - British platinum specialist Johnson Matthey (JMAT.L) said final-quarter trading was in line with company expectations, with sales down year-on-year because of the weak automotive market and lower metal prices.

For the year, the world’s biggest platinum refiner and fabricator said it expected underlying earnings per share to be “well within” the revised guidance range of 85 pence to 90 pence, given after the third quarter.

Sales of autocatalysts fell substantially as car companies continued to reduce production, the company said in a trading statement on Wednesday.

However, its process technologies division achieved good growth in the three months to end-March as environmental concerns supported demand for purification products.

Johnson Matthey also said sales at its fine chemicals and catalysts division, excluding precious metals, were ahead of the same period a year ago, helped by favourable exchange rates.

The firm said it would close its fine chemical facility in Ireland and consolidate manufacturing of biochemical prostaglandin products at its facility in the United States. The move would cost 9 million pounds ($12.9 million) in restructuring charges this year, it said.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle)

$1=.6981 Pound

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