Bullish Amersham ends year 27% ahead

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The Independent Online
AMERSHAM International expects to make 'substantial' gains out of currency movements in the current financial year through its policy of fixing its currency exposure six months in advance.

The health sciences group, whose pre-tax profits rose 27 per cent to pounds 26.3m in the year to March, exports the vast bulk of its products and is highly sensitive to movements in the pound.

However, Kirk Stephenson, finance director, said yesterday that the group's hedging policy meant 1993 profits were around pounds 1.1m lower than they would otherwise have been following the pound's devaluation.

The figures were accompanied by a bullish trading statement. Bill Castell, Amersham's chief executive, said overall operating performance had improved substantially over the past 12 months.

The impact of the recession in continental Europe had been counter- balanced by an improvement in the North American and UK markets, he said.

Amersham recently bought US Biochemical, the American group - paying up to dollars 69m ( pounds 46m) over the next three years - and views it as a key move into the genetics market. It is also pleased by a deal with the newly demerged Zeneca, under which the former ICI drugs arm will distribute Amersham's bone cancer painkiller, Metastron.

Turnover was down slightly at pounds 269m, as a result of the sale of the Clinical Reagents business to Eastman Kodak, but underlying sales in continuing businesses were up 12 per cent to pounds 240m. Spending on research and development rose 7 per cent to pounds 15.9m. The company is proposing a 9.5p a share final dividend (8.8p).

The figures were well received and the shares rose 30p to 754p.