Handheld computer company Psion has unveiled a healthy set of financial results and revealed that it is planning to float Symbian, its mobile technology joint venture.
For the six months to 30 June, sales across Psion's four divisions were up by 47 per cent to £94.3m, and pre-tax profit was up to £7.7m from £2.8m in the same period last year. This is in line with analysts' expectations.
Psion Computer saw revenue almost double from £24.5m to £48.8m, driven by its Revo and Series 5mx lines. Psion said the division's next major product range, which will be launched in summer 2001, includes palmtops created by its joint development partnership with Motorola.
The company blamed a dip in revenue at its Psion Connect PC card business - from £28.9m in 1999 to £28.4m this year - on the trend of embedding modems in portable computers. Psion said it had restructured the division into two businesses, focusing on Bluetooth and voice over IP services respectively.
Voice over IP products are expected from Psion later this year. The products have been developed by Quicknet, which Psion took a three per cent slice of in March. The company's first Bluetooth products are expected early next year, but Psion Connect expects its revenue to fall until its Bluetooth range is shipped in volume in autumn 2001.
Sales at Psion Enterprise, which makes products for corporate networks, increased by 59 per cent from £10.8m to £17.1m. Psion said its proposed £242m acquisition of Teklogic, scheduled to be completed next month, would boost its wireless Wan and Lan capabilities, and that the netPad range, a tablet-style computer for rugged environments, would ship later this year.
Symbian, the consortium owned by Ericsson, Matsushita, Motorola, Nokia and Psion, will be floated subject to market conditions and increased sales. Psion's share of Symbian's losses deepened to £4.7m in the first half of the year - £2m more than last year. Symbian employs 520 staff and has licensed its Epoc operating system to Sony earlier this year.
Psion said version 6 of Epoc is functionally complete, but beta testing means that products will not ship until 2001. Version 6.1, which adds GSM packet radio to its feature roster, is scheduled to be distributed to licensees later this year, with products based on the technology expected next summer.
After early gains that saw its prise rise by 30p this morning, Psion's shares had fallen back to 672p by 3pm (BST) - still 7p up on this morning's opening price of 675p.
Psion did not report separate figures for its Infomedia division.
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