Unichem profits climb 49%: Acquisitions boost figures as sales cross pounds 1bn mark for first time

UNICHEM, the pharmaceutical wholesaler and retailer, lifted taxable profits by 49 per cent in 1992 after group sales crossed the pounds 1bn mark for the first time.

Pre-tax profits, helped by acquisitions, rose from pounds 21.4m to pounds 31.9m for the 12 months to 31 December.

Jeff Harris, chief executive, said about half the increase in profits was due to acquisitions, and half derived from organic growth. Unichem bought three drug wholesalers in Portugal early last year. It has also been building a chain of high street chemists, adding 79 outlets to make 209 at the year end. All trade under the Moss banner.

Overall operating profit margins improved from 2.4 per cent to 3.3 per cent, a reflection of the much healthier margins in retailing where Unichem is a relative newcomer.

Unichem took a pounds 2.5m extraordinary charge - soon to be outlawed under new accounting standards - in relation to the closure of its Neptune nappy business. In 1991 the company had a pounds 1m extraordinary charge for an unsuccessful takeover attempt.

The shares rose from 236p to 243.5p yesterday. The shares have outpaced the stock market average by 50 per cent since Unichem was floated in 1990.

Earnings per share, calculated before the extraordinary items, were 15.1p against 13.3p. The dividend is 5.75p (5p).