28 April 1995

Report says farming keeping pace

AGRICULTURE has kept pace well with the rest of the economy in emerging from recession, analysis by Plimsoll Publishing has revealed.

By studying a number of key criteria from published annual results, the Plimsoll group puts companies into one of five different categories: Strong, good, mediocre, caution or danger. The most recent studies of 1993/94 accounts show that, of the 8567 agricultural firm assessed, 24% were "strong" and 15% "good". This compared with 22% and 11% based on the previous years figures.

At the other end of the spectrum, Plimsoll reckons 11% should be treated with "caution", with 34% in "danger". In the previous accounting period, these figures were 13% and 39%, respectively.

"The balance of companies rated strong and good to those which are rated caution or in danger is improving, indicating that more are consolidating and strengthening their financial position," said a spokesman. The picture is similar in industry where, according to the Plimsoll analysis, 26% of firms are now "strong" and 14% "good", while 12% deserve "caution" and 32% are in "danger". "This is a considerable improvement on the situation 12 months ago."

In terms of sales performance, agricultural companies saw an 11% increase in turnover in 1993/94, compared with 13% for industry. Both sectors recorded a 3% profit margin, compared with just 1% the previous year.