Oxford Instruments plc, the leading provider of high technology products and systems for industry and research, has announced its half-year results for the six months to 30 September 2020.
Although revenue was down by 11.0% to £140.3m, affected by customer site closures and the introduction of new covid-related working practices, orders up 6.0% to £175.7m (2019: £165.7m), and its order book is also nearly 17% up from March 2020, at £204.6 million.
Based on robust half-year trading performance and a strong order book, the company is supporting an interim dividend of 4.1p.
Ian Barkshire, Chief Executive of Oxford Instruments plc, said: "The Group is positioned to be a leading provider of high technology products and services to the world’s leading industrial customers and scientific research communities to image, analyse and manipulate materials down to the atomic and molecular level. This allows us to live up to our purpose of facilitating a greener economy, increased connectivity, improved health and leaps in scientific understanding.
"We have seen strong order growth in the first half of the year with a good improvement in the order book. Orders have grown across our academic and commercial customer base, particularly for our compound semiconductor process solutions and quantum cryogenic and magnet systems. Covid-related customer disruption has affected installation and commissioning activities.
"This, along with the introduction of new covid-safe working practices across our manufacturing sites, has led to a fall in revenue over the first half. Gains from our Horizon strategy and cost control enabled sustained operating margins despite lower revenue. The dedication, agility and resilience of our employees during this difficult period underpins our confidence in our ability to service and support the needs of our customers.
He added: "We are adjusting to the external and internal effects of the pandemic and expect uncertainty to remain high. However, robust trading during the first half, combined with a strong order book, gives us confidence for the second half, absent a material increase in covid‑related disruption that could impact facility or customer site access. We expect full-year performance to be a little behind last year on a constant currency basis, ahead of current analyst forecasts.
"The transformation of the Group through our Horizon strategy has provided a solid foundation for future growth. Our focus on markets with sustainable long-term growth drivers, our continuous drive for greater efficiencies and our ability to respond to evolving customer needs mean that we remain well-positioned to navigate the current challenges and return to long-term sustainable growth and margin improvement."
Oxford Instruments was the first substantial commercial spin-out company from the University of Oxford.
It was founded in 1959 by Sir Martin Wood Lady Audrey Wood – who later founded The Oxford Trust – in their garden shed in Northmoor Road in Oxford to manufacture superconducting magnets for use in scientific research.
The company was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1983, and today, with hundreds of employees around the world, Oxford Instruments is an international science and technology business with its headquarters in Oxfordshire.