First full-year profit for Celcis

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The Independent Online
CELSIS INTERNATIONAL, the biotech company led by the scientist Chris Evans and the former England rugby coach Jack Rowell, yesterday reported its first full-year profit, one of the few biotech companies to make it into the black.

Celsis also announced a six-year sales and marketing agreement with Kleencare Hygiene for the distribution of SpotCheck, Celsis's new hygiene test. The finance director, Mark Harris, said it had been a landmark year for the group, which reported pre-tax profits before exceptionals of pounds 1.64m compared with a loss of pounds 857,000 the year before.

"It's been a very important year for us," Mr Harris said, referring both to progress with its star product SpotCheck and the management changes which saw Jack Rowell join as chief executive.

The shares are still way off their 1995 peak of 141.5p, though they edged up 2.5p to27.5p yesterday. But the group has pounds 1.9m of cash - sufficient, analysts say - and is pinning its future hopes on SpotCheck. With the launch planned for the autumn, the device, which changes colour to indicate contamination, will be the world's first disposable hygiene testing kit. Shaped like a pen, it will cost around pounds 1.50.

The agreement with Kleencare, the trading arm of LHS Holdings, gives the hygiene provider exclusive rights to market and sell SpotCheck in the industrial and agricultural food processing and dairy and beverage markets in Europe.

Erling Refsum, biotech analyst at Nomura, said: "The new management seems to be getting to grips with the underlying business. They are profitable now and they're growing - they may meet their brokers' forecast to double profits by next year. The stock is fairly valued for its growth rate so we say hold."