LONDON (July 1)—Tomkins P.L.C.'s industrial and automotive group suffered a 23.4-percent drop in operating earnings for the year ended April 30, while sales edged up 0.9 percent to $2.85 billion. Slumping automotive sales last year and early this year contributed to sales declines by the division's power transmission, fluid power and windshield wiper businesses, the company said. Strong aftermarket sales of selected products help offset the drops in original equipment business. The bulk of Tomkins' industrial and automotive comes from its Gates Rubber activities. For fiscal 2003, Tomkins notes that although there "are some signs of a modest improvement in demand, particularly in the industrial and automotive sectors, it is too early to say if this is indicative of a continuing trend."