Halma raises interim dividend and eyes acquisitions after profits jump

 
City A.M. Reporter
BRITISH safety equipment group Halma posted a 29 per cent rise in first-half pre-tax profit, helped by growth across all its major geographic markets, and said it would continue to look for attractive acquisitions.

Halma, which has transformed itself from a tea company to a maker of smoke detectors and automatic door sensors, raised its interim dividend by seven per cent to 3.54p.

“Market conditions are much steadier than they have been over the previous two years and, therefore, this year we expect a much more evenly balanced split between first half and second half trading,” chief executive Andrew Williams said.

For the first half to 2 October, the company posted a pre-tax profit of £49.3m from continuing operations, compared with £38.1m a year ago. Revenue rose 12 per cent to £249.1m.

The company, which recently bought Alicat Scientific – a specialist in flow and pressure instrumentation – ended the period with net cash of £27.6m and said it had significant headroom for further acquisitions. Williams said the firm would likely try to find an acquisition target in Asia, most likely in the healthcare space.

Shares of the company, which have gained 20 per cent since reporting an eight per cent rise in first-quarter sales on 29 July, closed down 4.68 per cent at 313.60p yesterday.