Siebe Plc, the giant industrial group with substantial interests in industrial control systems, has kept its word to investors once again, with half year growth in profits running above its self proclaimed 15% bench mark. Net profits for the six months to September 30 rose by 22.1% to 136.9m pounds on revenue that rose 16.0% to 1.71bn pounds while earnings per share grew 15.4% to 27.7 pence. Siebe has proved itself to be a master of relentless cost control, squeezing ever improving operating profits out of its growing flock of subsidiaries, which now number over 200 worldwide employing 50,000 people. Operating profit margins from existing businesses improved from 14.7% to 16.4% in the period. The company is also claiming a growth in operating profit at more than twice the rate of revenue growth. Certain analysts have been predicting the demise of Siebe’s buoyant stock price, insisting that margin improvements are ultimately finite, but Siebe continues to defy its skeptics and the shares rose 35 pence to 1160 pence, up 21% since the company last reported in May. As expected, the Group’s performance has once again been outstanding, said chairman Barrie Stephens. Foxboro in the US, the biggest company in the group, said that demand for its Unix and Windows NT-based automation systems was stronger than ever. The company is also seeing a growing trend towards outsourcing of factory control systems which it sees as its most exciting growth opportunity. Foreign exchange adjustments caused a 189m pound reduction in revenue and an 18m pound loss of accounting profits for the six months. The interim dividend is up 10.2% at 5.4 pence.