Shares in GKN were down on the FTSE 100 in afternoon trading despite the engineering company reporting a return to profit in the year ended 31 December 2010.

During the period sales increased by £861 million to £5.1 billion. The group also went from a pre-tax loss of £54 million in 2009 to a pre-tax profit of £345 million.

Following the return to profit GKN said it had restored a total dividend of 5.0 pence per share.

GKN said that its results were helped by a strong recovery in its Driveline, Powder Metallurgy and Land Systems divisions. Driveline sales increased 35 per cent, Powder Metallurgy saw its sales rise 48 per cent, Aerospace sales increased two per cent and Land Systems sales rose 18 per cent. The Aerospace division also reported signing $1.5 billion in new contracts.

Sir Kevin Smith, Chief Executive of GKN, said, "GKN has continued to make strong progress in financial performance and in building the future of our global market-leading businesses. The trading environment has seen an improving trend for GKN's Driveline, Powder Metallurgy and Land Systems businesses. The aerospace market has remained subdued although civil aerospace is now moving into a strong growth phase with volume increases on existing platforms and new aircraft moving into production.

"The Group's restructuring actions have enabled us to improve our competitiveness and margins and the continued focus on cash generation has resulted in a halving of net debt.

"As a result of the strong performance, the Board is recommending a final dividend of 3.5 pence per share, making a total dividend of 5.0 pence for 2010.

"GKN's strong market positions and leading technology and the conclusion of restructuring leave us extremely well positioned for sustainable growth and margin expansion."

By 14:40 shares in GKN were down 4.05 pence per share on the FTSE 100 to 201.40 pence per share.