SSL excites the City as profits grow

ASHARES in SSL jumped to record highs yesterday after the condom-to-foot-deodorant maker said first half profits were up 59 per cent.<br /><br />SSL said that pre-tax profits rose to &pound;51.9m from &pound;32.5m in the six months ending 30 September, driven by a strong performance at its Durex Play business that makes lubricants and vibrators, and its acquisition of a Russian condom maker. <br /><br />Total group sales jumped by 21.2 per cent to &pound;390.9m, while its Durex business that contributes just over 40 per cent of group turnover, rose by 5.3 per cent to &pound;143.5m.<br /><br />BBLV, the Russian rival that SSL acquired in the Spring, reported sales of &pound;45m and operating profit of &pound;10.5m in the four months since it was taken over, while the group&rsquo;s Durex Play division saw sales jump to &pound;25.2m.<br /><br />Shares in SSL became the FTSE 100&rsquo;s top riser at one point and closed the day up by 7.14 per cent at 730p. <br /><br />The group&rsquo;s Scholl footcare division said sales increased by 4.7 per cent to &pound;48.7m.<br /><br />Scholl sales accounted for &pound;95.6m of total revenues, an increase of 1.9 per cent on last year, with strong sales in Germany, <br />France, Japan and Scandinavia being offset by destocking in pharmacies in Italy. <br /><br />Chief executive David Watts said: &ldquo;Despite tough trading conditions in some of our core markets, our turnover has moved ahead strongly. Both core brands, Durex and Scholl, have performed well.&rdquo; <br /><br />Analysts broadly welcomed the strong results from SSL.