Kidde ups the ante

Thursday, April 1, 2004

LONDON - Fresh off a fiscal year in which it saw sales rise more than six percent, fire and safety group Kidde plc last month scored a major coup in its marketing push.

The company has signed former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to appear in TV commercials in the United States. In the spots, Giuliani will educate consumers about the importance of protecting their homes with smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and other products that Kidde supplies.

Not coincidentally, consumer products were the weakest part of an otherwise encouraging 2003 that saw rises in a number of areas, including divisional profit, operating profit and adjusted earnings per share.

In announcing the 2003 results, Chief Executive Officer Michael Harper said he was pleased with the company’s performance in the face of a number of adverse factors.

“The results for 2003 demonstrate the ability of the group to make progress despite the challenging market conditions and exchange rate environment,” Harper said. Kidde has suffered from a weak dollar because more than half of its business is conducted in the United States.

However, Harper said, the company has started off 2004 on a positive note.

“We have commenced 2004 with a good order book and with more favorable prospects in our core markets than for some time,” he said. “Accordingly, we expect our businesses to make further progress this year.”

One of the positives the company has seen this year was its acquisition of Gloria KG, a European manufacturer of portable fire extinguishers for commercial and industrial markets. Kidde agreed to acquire Gloria for about 24 million p-ounds. At press time, the deal was awaiting approval from German regulators.

Harper said he is confident that Kidde’s 2004 numbers will be as strong as in 2003. In addition to the Giuliani commercials, which the company hopes will boost consumer sales, a rebounding U.S. economy should increase commercial sales as well. A positive economy, he said, should encourage businesses to invest in new factories and other commercial buildings, where alarms and sprinkler systems are required by law, he said.