Clean Air boost drives Johnson Matthey profits higher

Cars sit in a traffic jam along the Embankment during the morning rush hour in central London, Britain, August 29, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

(Reuters) - Chemicals group Johnson Matthey JMAT.L on Thursday reported a 48% jump in full-year earnings, bolstered by strength in its Clean Air unit that makes catalytic converters and other pollution filters for both cars and trucks.

The FTSE 100 company said operating profit for the year ended March 31 climbed to 531 million pounds from 359 million pounds a year earlier, just below consensus estimates of 545.5 million pounds.

The company, among Europe’s leading producers of autocatalysts, has been pushing into developing countries including China and India, which are striving to control the pollution generated by rapid urbanization.

“In the year, Clean Air performed strongly and we are investing in new plants to satisfy future demand, particularly from Asia which will be our next key growth driver,” the company said in a statement.

Clean Air, which makes up the lion’s share of company earnings, saw an 11% jump in sales while underlying profit was 13% higher.

Johnson Matthey, which has a 200-year old history, said it anticipated 2019/20 growth in operating performance at constant rates to be within its medium term guidance of mid-to-high single digit growth.

Johnson Matthey counts its origins back to the supply by founders Percival Norton Johnson and George Matthey of wire and foil for Michael Faraday’s research into electricity in the 1800s.

Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong and Muvija M in Bengaluru; editing by Patrick Graham