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  1. Technology
November 11, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

Oxford, UK-based Oxford Instruments Plc, in reporting a whopping 54% increase in profit for the first half of the year, attributes its good fortune to an up-turn in the economy. It experienced a rise on turnover of 13%, up to UKP55.1m compared to UKP48.6m last year. New orders had increased consistently over the last 18 months and its order book is now worth UKP127m. Despite the capital requirements of funding this increasing turn over, the company managed to maintain a positive cash flow and net cash rose UKP6.4m to close at UKP14.3m. On the back of this success the company will pay an interim of 1.7 pence on March 23 next year. Oxford Instruments reported that its analytical systems businesses have started to make a material contribution while the divisions centred on its core technology of superconductivity – Research Instruments, NMR Instruments and Superconducting Technology – continued to show strong performances. It said these trends were expected to continue in the second half and those operations worst hit by the recession – Plasma Technology and Medical Systems – were experiencing an increase in business. Its Japanese subsidiary more than doubled its sales compared to the same period last year and this division will be the focus of Oxford Instruments’ efforts to establish X-ray lithography in the semiconductor industry. Its collaboration with Siemens AG and Oxford Magnet Technology was a major profit and cash contributor; there were signs that demand in the magnetic resonance imaging market was improving, it reported. However, the company said its success was also attributable to its commitment to investing in research and development, even during the recession. Oxford Instruments pledged to continue this and said it was making good progress in magnetic separation technology, novel high current superconducting wire, automatic nuclear radiation monitoring systems and neutron radiography. It has spent UKP7.4m to date on building its second synchrotron, Helios2, and reported considerable interest in the synchrotron, but no buyers as yet. But the company said serious marketing efforts were on going and it was sure a buyer would be found. Its confidence is probably not misplaced: last month (CI No 2,517) the Proximity X-Ray Lithography Collaborative Association was formally launched by IBM Corp, AT&T Corp, Loral Corp and Motorola Inc to explore the use of X-ray lithography in future generations of devices like microprocessors and high-density memory. Oxford Instruments is currently the only company capable of supplying a synchrotron of the appropriate size for making chips. The synchrotron will be ready at the end of next year. Its Accelerator Technology Group has won a number of contracts to supply beam lines and other key equipment to national synchrotron research facilities in Europe and the US.

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