The Bern technology group, Ascom, has returned to profit after three years in the red, posting a net profit in 2004 of SFr47 million ($40.4 million).
Ascom, which has been selling off parts of its businesses over the past few years, reported on Wednesday that its sales were SFr1.22 billion and operating profit had increased to SFr77 million.
The net profit was just above the SFr40-45 million profit range for 2004 that Ascom had forecast in February.
Ascom gave no further details of its plans to reduce its operations to two divisions – one making such products as hospital pagers and the other making alarm systems for trains and utilities. It intends to sell its other activities.
The company shed almost 1,000 jobs as a result of the divestment programme.
In a statement, Ascom commented that it had consistently implemented its divestment programme in 2004 and had also reaped SFR26 million by selling off additional parts of its Swiss real estate portfolio.
In view of the "good results", the board of directors proposed a dividend payment of five per cent of the share capital to the annual shareholders’ meeting on April 19.
This corresponds toSFr0.275 per registered share or 21 per cent of the group net income.
In its outlook, Ascom said it would continue to concentrate on the further development of its two divisions, Wireless Solutions and Security Solutions.
It added that it aimed to boost sales and profitability in all its units this year.
Ascom shares have risen more than 16 per cent this year after more than doubling in 2003.
swissinfo with agencies
Ascom made a net profit of SFr47 million ($40.4 million) in 2004, after posting a loss of SFr68 million the previous year.
The company, which used to make telephones and is a household name in Switzerland, has been divesting businesses in a bid to return to profitability.
The number of employees fell from 4,842 at the end of 2003 to 3,877 at the end of 2004.
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