Bottom Line: Psion finds the key

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YESTERDAY's interim figures confirmed that Psion is more than the sum of its Organisers. The manufacturer of the hand-held computers that ousted Filofaxes from briefcases gets about half its revenue from corporate sales.

Although retail sales were stronger in the first half, the company reported signs of keen interest in the series 3 from businesses in Britain and the rest of Europe as capital spending recovers. It said it had signed significant new contracts with customers such as BRS, Exel Logistics and BMW.

Sales of Psion's latest models, the series 3 and 3a, in the first half were double the previous year's level, and at pounds 16.7m accounted for 59 per cent of turnover. Sales of the original Organisers fell, but by a surprisingly modest 15 per cent.

Psion has a strong niche, too, in the fast-growing market for tiny modems. All new notebook computers and an increasing number of desk-top machines have credit card-sized slots for modems, and Psion's expertise in miniature products has given it an edge here.

Pre-tax profits for the year look set to reach pounds 5.5m, from pounds 3m last year, rising to pounds 7m or more in 1995. One of the few flag-bearers for Britain's computer industry, Psion has been on a relatively demanding price-earnings ratio compared with the rest of its sector. Even so, the long-term profit potential and more reasonable prospective rating of about 18 make it worth buying.