A DOWNTURN in the construction markets of developing countries has not affected JCB's ability to break the £300 million earnings barrier for the fourth successive year.
The Rocester-based digger giant today posted earnings of £303 million for 2014, compared to £313 million in 2013, before 'one-off restructuring costs' of £11 million.
Sales turnover for 2014 hit £2.51 billion, against £2.68 billion for the previous year, while machine sales were 64,028, compared to 66,227 in 2013.
A downturn in the key markets of Brazil, which dropped 17 per cent in 2014, Russia, which fell 27 per cent, India, down around 15 per cent, and China, which took a 17 per cent hit, heralded a challenging 2014 for JCB.
In October, the digger giant announced up 150 redundancies due to the shrinking of those markets.
However, its affect has been partially mitigated by an improving construction market in the west and JCB enjoyed a record year in North America as its sales grew 23 per cent.
Lord Bamford said: "For different reasons, each of the 'BRIC' markets of Brazil, Russia, India and China were sharply down in 2014.
"However, the broad spread of our business enabled us to benefit from better conditions in North America, western Europe and particularly the UK.
"Global market uncertainty has continued into 2015, though our home market of the UK remains a rare bright spot.
"The need for infrastructure in much of the developing world remains acute and will eventually drive a resumption of growth.
"Our resilient performance in 2014 demonstrates we are well-placed to capitalise on improving trends as they emerge."
After announcing the results, JCB chairman Lord Bamford said the UK should not fear leaving the European Union.
David Cameron has promised an in-out referendum on British membership by the end of 2017.
Lord Bamford said: "We are the fifth or sixth largest economy in the world. We could exist on our own - peacefully and sensibly."
The company's CEO, Graeme Macdonald, echoed Lord Bamford's sentiments in an interview with a national newspaper, stating that EU red tape sometimes made it easier to sell to North America.
He also said he expected the UK's construction market to continue to grow in the coming years due to a national housing shortage.
He said: "The UK and Ireland is the second-fastest-growing in the world at 30 per cent and I feel that this growth will continue.
"There is a shortage of housing and the construction industry will benefit from many homes being built, as well as from major infrastructure projects, like HS2 and a big investment in the UK's road network."
Mr Macdonald also said continued investment in global markets, including the opening of a new factory in India, meant JCB would be in a strong position to capitalise when developing nations' markets improved.
He said: "The latest figures show that we're making a huge contribution to the UK's economy, contributing £1.4 billion to the country's GDP, £545m to the exchequer and providing 24,000 jobs in the UK."