Agriculture and engineering group Carr's is trading in line with expectations, according to an update issued ahead of today's annual general meeting.
The group said trading for the 18-week period to 6 Jan was significantly ahead of the prior year in both agriculture and engineering.
Carr's said: 'UK agriculture has begun the year positively, with improved farm incomes continuing to reinforce farmer confidence.
'Our retail business has had a strong start to the financial year and manufactured feed volumes are ahead of the same period in the prior year. Fuel volumes are lower due to milder weather and wet ground conditions affecting agricultural operations during the early part of the winter.
'As envisaged, machinery sales remain strong and continue to reflect positive farmer sentiment on the prospects for UK agriculture. UK feed block sales also continue to be strong.
'US feed block sales volumes continue to recover as discussed in our FY17 full year results announcement on 13 November 2017, as cattle prices for producers continue to improve. The new low moisture feed block plant at Shelbyville, Tennessee, is now fully commissioned and in production.'
On the engineering side, it said: 'Our UK manufacturing business is trading well ahead of the prior year benefiting from improved levels of activity.
'Work continues on the significant contract announced on 20 July 2017 and the order book for the business remains strong.
'Our remote handling businesses are also performing well. The full integration of STABER GmbH and the extension of the Group's premises at Markdorf, Germany which are expected to complete during 2018 will provide additional capacity to support the ongoing growth of the business.
'The integration of NuVision, the technology and engineering solutions business focused on nuclear markets, is progressing as planned.
'The Group remains enthusiastic about the opportunity to market Walischmiller remote handling equipment in the USA as a result of the acquisition.'
The group said its financial position remained strong and net debt at 2 Dec was £19.0m compared to net debt of £14.1m at 2 Sep.
Chief executive Tim Davies said: 'We are pleased with how FY18 has commenced.
'We are seeing the continued recovery across both divisions and the investments we have made in acquisitions and research will continue to act as a solid foundation for ongoing growth.'
At 8:15am: (LON:CARR) Carrs Group Plc share price was +13.5p at 137.5p