Oxford Instruments climbs to pounds 10.6m

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The Independent Online
OXFORD Instruments, the advanced instrumentation company, made pre-tax profits of pounds 10.6m in the year to 28 March, an increase of 24 per cent. The dividend was raised 5 per cent to 4.5p, and the shares rose 14p to 261p, writes Alison Eadie.

The order book, which suffered significant falls in the previous two years, started to recover in the second half, helped by new products. Peter Williams, chairman and chief executive, said the company's basket of territories - 85 per cent of sales are overseas - had seen the worst, although recovery was expected to be gradual. The depreciation of sterling would help competitiveness.

The MRI joint venture with Siemens, making equipment for body scanners, chipped in pounds 6.05m before tax, an increase of 18.5 per cent. No growth is expected this year due to the political uncertainty surrounding healthcare spending in the US.

The company is concentrating on improving operating margins by eliminating losses at two operations in the next 12 to 18 months and reducing engineering costs.

It remains committed to research and development expenditure, which was held at pounds 8m gross last year, and to its specialised labour force. It is building its second synchrotron ring on spec at a cost of pounds 5m, taking the risk that a buyer will emerge in two years. Its first ring is working at close to 100 per cent for IBM.

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