11 November 2003

Smiths Group, Annual General Meeting Chairman's statement on the current outlook

Speaking at the AGM held at 12:00 noon today at 10 Aldermanbury, London EC2, Keith Orrell-Jones, Chairman of Smiths Group said:

Smiths Group continues to focus its activities on areas of greatest opportunity for growth. The strength of the balance sheet, combined with high operational cash-flow, provides a platform for developing this strategy. Since the year end, when net debt stood at 715m, we have received the proceeds of the Polymer disposal, reducing debt by a further 500m. We aim to use our resources to enhance earnings by strengthening market share and technology leadership in our existing business sectors.

As explained in the preliminary results statement, the first half of last year benefited from significant deliveries of detection equipment for US airports. As a consequence, the results of the continuing activities in first half of the current year will not be as strong as last year, with the second half showing growth.

In the current year, the company remains confident it can achieve a steady performance from the continuing activities, with reduced profits from commercial aerospace balanced by gains elsewhere. Looking further ahead, the focus on growth markets and operational efficiency will drive performance improvement.

ENDS