Traffic info firm Itis sees clear way into the black

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Itis Holdings is no longer stuck on a jammed road. The loss-making company, which broadcasts traffic jam information to in-car navigation systems, is moving into the black quicker than expected. It broke even for the first time in the second half and is expected to report its first full-year profit in 2006, a trading statement said yesterday.

Itis Holdings is no longer stuck on a jammed road. The loss-making company, which broadcasts traffic jam information to in-car navigation systems, is moving into the black quicker than expected. It broke even for the first time in the second half and is expected to report its first full-year profit in 2006, a trading statement said yesterday.

In-car navigation systems seem to be catching the motoring public's imagination, certainly if last Christmas's sales figures are anything to go by. It has also put its nasty spat with rival Trafficmaster behind it - the dispute was caused by a Trafficmaster-commissioned report that concluded its data was more accurate than that of Itis.

Itis gets its information from transmitters placed in vehicles that use the road network a lot, such as lorries and coaches. Trafficmaster has put up roadside sensors across the country.

But Itis's main advantage is that it transmits information over the radio spectrum - via Classic FM - to devices fitted in many major car makes. Trafficmaster is moving into radio transmission, a competitive threat that Stuart Marks, the chief executive of Itis, is taking seriously. But he believes Itis is in a much stronger position than Trafficmaster: it has contracts with 16 car makers, while Trafficmaster has none.

Itis is rolling out its Estimotion technology, which tracks mobile phones as they switch from base station to base station, and should improve jam detection, in Baltimore, Antwerp and Scotland, and is hoping to introduce it in England later this year. The stock is worth holding.

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