According to Astec (BSR) Plc, formerly based in Birmingham, UK but now in Hong Kong, a weakening of the electronics market in response to slow global growth in the interim period, is to blame for the meagre 5% rise in revenue to 390m pounds in fiscal 1996. Pre-tax profits, however, were up 20% at 34m pounds and shares of the power conversion and electronics components firm were up 4.5 pence at 146.5 pence yesterday. Chairman David Farr said Astec was able to glean these profits despite a sluggish market, because of its commitment to low-cost manufacturing and a shift in the sales mix to higher value-added new products and markets, referring to the areas of communications and automotive engineering. The company raised its operating profit margin to 8.3% from 7.3% last time. Astec’s flagship power conversion arm brought in 81% of total revenue at 315m pounds, up 7.7% on last year. Operating profits were up 17.9% to 26.9m pounds. Its other business, electronic components, didn’t fare as well on sales, with a 4.5% fall to 75.6m pounds, but operating profit was up 25% to 5.6m pounds. The company brought out a range of new products during the year, including adapters for notebooks, mid-range and personal computer power supplies, generators and resistors. It also added 24 new modules to its AMPSS high-density power supply product. Astec undertook some restructuring and expansion of its South Asian operations, closing down its Pekan, Malaysia power supply facility and redirecting production to its other Malaysian and Chinese plants. It is also expanding its Philippines manufacturing facility. Astec’s spend on development and engineering rose by 9.7% to 21m pounds, some 5.4% of sales. It will pay a final dividend of 1.2 pence for a 20% rise to 1.8 pence for the year.