The pre-tax rise from pounds 8.48m to pounds 10.3m for the six months to end-June was achieved despite a poor performance from France, Germany and Canada and only a marginal rise in trade from the US, the company's largest market, with 60 per cent of sales.
Labsystems, a Finnish manufacturer bought for pounds 33.5m in June as part of a strategy to internationalise the group, made a 'useful contribution to results for the first half', Sir Christopher said. 'The group continues to look for acquisitions that meet its demanding criteria, while building on its increasing international strength.'
Current trading continued to be difficult, but Sir Christopher was more confident than a year ago, when economic conditions were the toughest for five years. 'Return on sales at 15.4 per cent was excellent, as was cash generation.'
Turnover rose pounds 16m to pounds 66m, of which about pounds 4.4m was due to acquisitions. Fully diluted earnings per share, affected by a higher tax charge, rose 13 per cent to 4.3p. The interim dividend is 1.4p, against 1.2p. The impact of dollar/sterling currency translations was neutral, and was likely to remain so for the full year.
In July, Life Sciences bought two US rivals, Alko Diagnostics and Memphis Biomedical Services, for a total of pounds 4.65m, leaving net debt at pounds 30.9m, with gearing of about 70 per cent. The shares rose 11p to 155p.