Sterilising proves fertile for Isotron profits

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SHARES in Isotron, the sterilisation company, fell back yesterday despite news of a solid increase in profitability, writes Robert Cole.

Pre-tax profits rose from pounds 1.4m to pounds 1.5m for the six months ended 31 December. The interim dividend was increased by 10 per cent to 1.66p.

John Barker, chief executive, said: 'Trading is on the up and our main engine room of profits, sterilising disposable medical equipment, is going well with a good start to the second half.'

Isotron has also developed radiation technology to toughen plastics for use as wire casings by altering their molecular structure.

A new pounds 4m sterilisation plant has been built in Ireland and is on schedule to open in April. The company said it would lose money in the final quarter of the year while validation tests were undertaken. It would add to profit performance output next year. Mr Barker said a significant proportion of the plant's capacity had been reserved for new customers.

Operating profits rose 13 per cent to pounds 1.41m. The rise at the pre-tax line was less marked because interest income fell. Earnings per share grew to 8.1p from 7.8p. The shares closed at 295p, down 5p on the day.