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Ascom profits rise as company shrinks

Ascom has succeeded in staying out of the red so far this year

(Keystone)

Swiss technology group Ascom has reported that its net profit more than doubled to reach SFr50.6 million ($41.21 million) during the first six months of the year.

The improved result comes after the company's decision to narrow its focus and sell off some business units.

Earnings before interest and tax (Ebit) rose to SFr50.3 million from SFr29.8 million during the same period a year ago. Sales fell to SFr513.6 million from SFr595.7 million in the first six months of 2004.

Analysts at Zurich Cantonal Bank had forecast the firm would report SFr36 million net profit on sales of SFr524 million.

For the full year, Ascom said it saw no significant changes in the economic situation but all in all it expected a higher net result for the full year.

"With the sale of Network Integration Switzerland to sunrise, and [...] Transport Revenue to Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (ACS), Ascom has made important steps in focusing... and set up the basis for sustainable further development of the company," Ascom said.

No large acquisitions

These sales were announced during the summer. The group intends to focus on its Wireless Solutions and Security Solutions units.

Ascom does not plan to make any large acquisitions within the next 18 months but does not rule out smaller ones. It will also pursue its divestment process and continue to seek buyers for its Special Products division.

The company said its supervisory board would consider a motion put forward by two minority shareholders – Sterling Investment Group and Swissfirst Bank, which together hold more than ten per cent of its shares – which called for an extraordinary general meeting.

The motion would ask the meeting to decide to buy back shares to the amount of SFr288 million after the sale of the Transport Revenue division to ACS for about $100 million.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Ascom reported net income worth SFr50.6 million for the first six months of the year (versus SFr22.4 million for the first half of 2004).
EBIT was SFr50.3 million (SFr29.8 million in 2004).
Revenue was SFr513.6 million (down from SFr595.7 million in 2004).

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In brief

Since 2002, Ascom has undergone constant restructuring to recover fom heavy losses.

In 2003, the group lost SFr68 million, but last year announced a net profit worth SFr47 million with revenue of SFr1.15 billion.

Ascom is now focusing on two divisions: Wireless Solutions (pagers for example) and Security Solutions (alarm systems).

The group employs 2,800 people around the world, down from 3,700 at the beginnning of the year and 18,000 in the 1990s.

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