Gold Peak on target with 15.6pc net rise

GOLD Peak Industries (Holdings) has pushed earnings before extraordinary items up 15.6 per cent, as good profits on batteries and electrical equipment cancelled out poor sales of car audio products.

The results also include extraordinary gains of $36.3 million, thanks mostly to a $40.5 million profit from the float of Clipsal Industries (Holdings) in Singapore.

Profits before this figure for the year to March 31 were $93.1 million, in line with forecasts of many analysts.

A final dividend of 5.5 cents will take payment for the year to 10 cents a share.

Chairman and chief executive Victor Lo Chung-wing painted a bright picture of prospects in Asia and said the US market ''has bottomed out and is recovering slowly''.

''The European market, however, is expected to remain slow for a further period,'' he said.

Gold Peak is taking strategic stakes in ventures ranging from basic manufacturing in Xuzhou, China, to stakes in KEF Audio and Celestion International, famous English makers of speakers.

Mr Lo outlined a ''philosophical long-term direction'' which would see more manufacturing in the US and Europe, which he said for many products was no longer much more expensive than manufacturing in Singapore or Hongkong.

''We are not necessarily worried about protectionism,'' said Mr Lo.

''But if the North American and European markets continue to be slow growing, then you can't rule out that they won't choose the road of becoming more protectionist.'' Mr Lo said about 10 per cent of direct sales were to China, with associates contributing a further five to 10 per cent.

''At the moment, our domestic sales in China are growing quite rapidly,'' he said.