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Smiths takes a hit

Cash-strapped governments are cutting back spending on an array of hi-tech equipment for uncovering explosives, drugs and hidden weapons, the industrial group Smiths warned yesterday.

Profits at the company's detection business fell 36 per cent to £20m in the half-year to 28 January, as more than 100, mainly Western, governments and agencies slashed budgets despite stronger growth in emerging markets.

The revenue fall was broad based with military equipment, ports and borders worst hit.