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26May94 UK: BRICK MARKET IS BOUNCING BACK - BAGGERIDGE BRICK AND HANSON.

Evidence of an improving brick market emerged in results from Baggeridge Brick and Hanson last week.Baggeridge unveiled a leap in pre-tax profits to £1.56 million for the half ending March (1993: £383,000), thanks to strong brick sales to national house builders.The company's production volume was markedly higher than last year with all its factories fully operational during the winter.Capacity is being increased at the firm's Waresley plant to meet extra demand from the housing sector.Chairman Peter Ward said trading conditions will remain very competitive but he was more optimistic for the future than for some time. He hoped the house builders' optimism would flow into the commercial and industrial sectors. The dividend was unchanged.Mr Ward added that brick prices were also very competitive and noted that national brick stocks had not fallen since the end of the year.Profits at Hanson's other building products division, which includes London Brick, rose to £31 million from £24 million last time.The firm said higher sales to UK house builders lifted brick volumes, bringing profit increases to London Brick and Butterley.Hanson said the industry's long overdue emergence from a deep recession has led to a reduction in national stocks to more acceptable levels.Volumes at London Brick were reported to have risen by 10 per cent and prices by 5 per cent.Profits at Hanson's aggregates operations, which includes ARC, leaped to £17 million from £2 million last time. ARC had seen higher sales and 'encouraging signs' of improving prices and margins.Profits at Hanson's entire building products arm rose to £108 million from £76 million last time.The conglomerate raised pre-tax profits 41 per cent to £526 million and earnings per share by 29 per cent. CONSTRUCTION NEWS