Devaluation helps boost Photo-Me's results

SHARES IN Photo-Me International climbed 16p to 350p after the photo-booths company declared a 21 per cent jump in pre- tax profits to pounds 10.5m for the six months to the end of October, writes John Murray.

The figure included a foreign exchange windfall of pounds 1.3m because of sterling's devaluation, but operating profits were also well ahead at pounds 16.2m ( pounds 14.5m).

David Miller, group managing director, said he expected a similar boost from foreign exchange earnings in the second half. Signs of recovery worldwide made him confident that Photo-Me's underlying growth would continue.

Turnover increased pounds 10m to pounds 72m - Photo-Me has now installed 18,000 booths worldwide, 2,400 of which are in the UK.

Mr Miller said trading conditions in the UK were still difficult - the drop-off in foreign holidays particularly hit turnover. Progess in Eastern Europe slowed but Europe remained Photo-Me's biggest growth area. Novelty services such as booths where customers could be pictured with celebrity backdrops were making a valuable contribution, although they had yet to realise their full potential.

Earnings per share were 15 per cent higher at 10.76p. The interim dividend rose 8 per cent to 1.4p.