Smiths Group eyes emerging markets to increase its sales

BRITISH technology firm Smiths Group said it would look to grow full-year sales through a greater focus on emerging markets, after cost cuts helped it to a higher first-half profit.

“To support growth opportunities in emerging markets, we established a direct sales presence in India for both Smiths Detection and Smiths Medical,” chief executive Philip Bowman said.

“We remain confident of meeting expectations for the full-year,” he added.

Smiths Medical and Smiths Detection together accounted for nearly half of total company sales in the first half.

The company did not give further details on any possible sale of its medical unit, for which it rejected a £2.45bn bid approach in January. Analysts said the medical unit could fetch a far higher price, but more importantly the spurned bid took the conglomerate closer to a possible break-up.

On a conference call with analysts, Bowman said it “was business at usual at Smiths Medical”, and it was the board’s “duty” to consider any offers.

Earlier yesterday, Smiths reported a pre-tax profit of £224m for the six months to 29 January, slightly above analysts’ estimate of £221m.

Sales at Smiths, whose products range from airport scanners and bomb detectors to medical devices and fuel hoses, rose seven per cent to £1.37bn, in line with market estimates of £1.36bn.

The company also increased its dividend by seven per cent to 11.25p.