Ansell affirms its guidance as demand jumps for protective wear

Ansell, the manufacturer of special gloves, body suits and other personal protective equipment, has affirmed its guidance and confirmed that the coronavirus has generated intense demand for its goods.

The Ansell business update is an exception to the rule among ASX-listed companies, with scores of companies having either downgraded their profit forecasts or withdrawn their guidance altogether in recent weeks because of the severe economic hit caused by COVID-19.

Rubber glove and personal protective equipment manufacturer Ansell has affirmed its earnings guidance.Credit:Peter Rae

But Ansell, which has a long Australian heritage but which today manufactures its products overseas, said it was "experiencing very strong demand for AlphaTec hand and body protection products which are tested and certified to recognised standards for protection from infective agents".

It also said there was strong market demand for many of its surgical gloves and single use examination gloves.

"Given our forward view on order pipeline and how the business is tracking, Ansell is reiterating its fiscal 2020 EPS (earnings per share) guidance range of US112¢ to US122¢. We continually monitor the effect of COVID-19 on our business and will make further updates if necessary," it said.

"Furthermore, and in spite of the unprecedented uncertainties and implications from the unknown extent of the COVID19 pandemic, Ansell still expects to provide fiscal 2021 guidance in August as usual," it said.

It also emphasised that it was financially sound, with a strong balance sheet including about $515 million of cash and committed undrawn bank facilities available at at the end of February. The company has no significant debt maturities occurring over the next year.

Whilst Ansell has recorded increased demand for some goods, it said that this impact was likely to be offset by ramifications from COVID-19 including "declining demand for some industrial products, by temporary lockdowns, by export restrictions within the EU and elsewhere, by restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the virus combined with lowered economic
growth outlook."

Ansell also said that with the COVID-19 outbreak changing daily "there is an increasing likelihood of delays and possible disruptions to transport and local distribution".

Ansell chief executive Magnus Nicolin said keeping its staff and its millions of customers safe was a top priority.

"We are working to keep our Ansell people safe through home working where possible, social distancing and by providing PPE equipment and monitoring the health of all. This in turn, allows us to do even more to protect millions of customers worldwide," he said.

Shares in Ansell closed down 3 per cent on Friday at $23.21, on a day when the S&P ASX200 closed down 5.3 per cent.

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