(Sharecast News) - Majority-stake investment company CEPS reported revenue of £6.3m in its first half on Friday, down from £10.17m year-on-year, as its gross profit slipped to £2.58m from £3.58m.
The AIM-traded firm said its adjusted operating profit after exceptional items was higher, however, at £2.77m for the six months ended 30 June, compared to £0.35m a year earlier.
Basic and diluted earnings per share were 13.81p, swinging from losses of 1.59p in the first half of 2019.
"The exceptional income on discontinued activities in the first half of 2020 reflects the accounting treatment of the administration of the CEM group of companies," said chairman David Horner.
"It will be a joy if we can get through 2021 with only normal activities being reported and the financial performance only reflecting trading from our ongoing trading subsidiaries," he quipped.
Horner said the company entered 2020 as a "more streamlined business", with a "significantly reduced" cost base.
"The management teams were proactive in putting in place plans to navigate through the Covid-19 crisis.
"This enabled us to participate in and gain assistance from many of the 'self-help' schemes made available by the UK government."
That access to government support, internal 'self-help' measures and the benefits of the prior year restructuring, meant costs were "dramatically" reduced, the company claimed.
Looking ahead, Horner said CEPS was "encouraged" by the continued level of engagement of its customers.
"It is not business as normal, but even those sectors hit hardest in the crisis are returning.
"We have always retained the ability to operate under social distancing guidelines and continue to operate as effectively as possible."
He said it remained "very difficult" to predict the outlook and the exact performance of the businesses, adding that the amount that could be claimed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme had reduced since the end of the first half, with the scheme currently due to end on 31 October.
"It is unlikely that the Group will benefit from this government support in the second half of 2020 to the same extent as it did in the first half.
"We also recognise the possibility of further regional lockdowns; a national lockdown would not only be disastrous it would simply be stupid."
Horner said the consistent message the company had given was that it did not expect normalisation of trading until around 2022.
After prior economic shocks, he noted it had taken between 18 and 24 months for confidence to fully return.
"The CEPS Group is getting better positioned and we are working on some other initiatives to improve the group.
"The events in 2020 have only accelerated the trend to digitalise business and move more activities to an e-commerce model."
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