Even before the financial year '98-99 had drawn to a close, investors had visualised that the company was all set to post record growth in sales and profit for the eleventh year in succession. That possibly is the reason why the 10-rupee share in BOC Pakistan has galvanised a whopping 156% in fewer than seven months: from Rs 81 on June 30, '99 to Rs 207 on Jan 28, 2000. So much in capital gains, together with 50% final cash dividend and an earlier bonus issue at 15%.

What more can the shareholders' ask? They ought to be dancing in joy at the Annual General Meeting, scheduled to be held on Monday, the January 31.

For the year ended Sept 30, '99, which marked the company's golden jubilee, BOC Pakistan achieved, year-on-year, 12% growth in turnover at Rs 1,145.9m; 26% increase in operating profit, which touched highest ever Rs 377.5m and 19.7% increase in pretax profit to its best at Rs 319.7m. The improved results were powered by hefty contributions from industrial gases and healthcare business.

The company claims market leadership in the industrial and medical gases business, while welding and medical equipment business have been making increasing contributions to the revenue and returns. Welding products sales were said to have remained subdued during the year under review, due to low demand in manufacturing sector and inactivity in industrial projects.

Chairman J.R.Rahim complained that in the Fiance Act '99, the Income Tax rates for Companies had been frozen at 33% and benefit under Section 80-C nullified. This had adversely affected tax charge for the year. The company was said to have taken up the matter with the CBR.

As Pakistan Oxygen Ltd till Jan 12, '95, and thereafter as BOC Pakistan, the company has continued to show scintillating progress over the years. But the growth in the past seven years has possibly been more momentous; all credit to the company MD, J.Anwar and his dedicated team of professionals. Recognising its consistent performance, high growth and handsome pay outs, the Karachi Stock Exchange rewarded BOC Pakistan with its top 25 companies award for as many as nine times, including the first position in 1995.

As much as 60% shares in the company are held by BOC Group plc, UK, including the BOC Group plc nominee shareholders. Among local shareholders, 7 financial institutions have 10.7% shares, followed by 7 insurance companies with 8.6% equity. And around 1,200 individuals have aggregate stake of 15.4% in the company.

Chairman reported that the company had entered into a long-term supply contract with PARCO for the supply of high purity nitrogen to their mid-country refinery project at Mahmood Kot. The investment was said to be progressing satisfactorily and a state-of-the art production facility was being erected at PARCO site for the purpose. At early December last year, when the chairman's report was signed, the civil work on he project was at an advanced stage and a new plant had already been shipped from the US. The facility was expected to be on-stream shortly.'This is a significant opportunity for the corporation in the petroleum sector, where your company will be supporting the largest refinery operation in the country', the chairman wrote to the shareholders.

Paid-up capital of the company was raised to Rs 208.7m during the year under review, from Rs 181.4m the previous year. With the reserves more than 3 times the capital at Rs 704.3m, the break-up value of the share worked out at Rs 43.75. Current ratio was 0.63:1; return on average capital employed stood at 31.2%; return on average shareholders' fund was 29.2%.

One of the major benefits that the company enjoys is the excellent liquidity. With the high cash generation within, aided by the availability of Rs 63.1m in interest-free cylinder deposits (from customers), the company is comfortable in the matter of cash flow. The company was said to be able to discharge its medium/long term debt liabilities on schedule.Upto Nov 1999, BOC Pakistan had paid Rs 603m on this count, through internal cash generation, notwithstanding the capital expenditure that required Rs 31.2m.

The company is now in the throes of giant new/expansion projects that would require investment of no less than Rs 1bn. The investment is meant to meet the growing demand of the country's Fabrication, paper and chemical industries. Already by the end of Sep 30, '99, the total assets of BOC Pakistan had crossed the Rs 2.0bn mark. The ambitious giant new investment plans mean that the company is focused not only on maintaining the growth momentum, but to accelerate it in the future.

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