Oxford Instruments confident on full-year performance, resumes dividend

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Oxford Instruments PLC (LON:OXIG) said full-year performance is expected to be “a little behind” last year but ahead of current analyst forecasts.

The FTSE 250 firm also resumed its interim dividend, setting it at 4.1p per share, the same amount of last year’s distribution which was then scrapped amid the pandemic.

The provider of equipment to the scientific community saw strong order growth in the first half of the year with a good improvement in the order book.

Orders rose across its academic and commercial customer base, particularly for its compound semiconductor process solutions and quantum cryogenic and magnet systems.

However, half-year revenue fell because of extra safety measures and customer disruption affecting installation and commissioning activities.

Operating margins were protected by measures to control costs.

In the six months to September 30, revenue shed 11% to £140mln, while profit before tax rose 7% to £20mln.

Net cash grew nearly six-fold to £81mln, while at period-end the group had total headroom of £214mln, including an undrawn £105mln credit facility.

Analysts at Peel Hunt increased the target price to 2,000p from 1800p and reiterated the ‘buy’ stance after upgrading their 2021 adjusted profit before tax forecast by 19.5% to £46.6mln while the earnings per share were lifted to 62.8p from 52.5p.

“Oxford Instruments is an excellent business… its relatively flexible cost base and strong balance sheet put it in a strong position during the current uncertainty, and to grow subsequently,” the broker commented.

Shares advanced 9% to 1,920.1p on Tuesday morning.

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