Superconducting magnets manufacturer Oxford Instruments Plc saw pre-tax profit surge 24% to UKP10.6m and will continue to base its strategy on technology but recognises this route lays it open to risks, particularly when markets for its developments look uncertain. Chairman Peter Williams said the group’s joint venture with Siemens AG in MRI Magnet manufacture was […]
Superconducting magnets manufacturer Oxford Instruments Plc saw pre-tax profit surge 24% to UKP10.6m and will continue to base its strategy on technology but recognises this route lays it open to risks, particularly when markets for its developments look uncertain. Chairman Peter Williams said the group’s joint venture with Siemens AG in MRI Magnet manufacture was a major contributor, but on the downside he pointed to severe pressure on orders, revenues and margins, causing total orders to fall 1% against the previous year. Business began to pick up in the second half, which was unexpected as six months ago he was pessimistic about any recovery over these months. Research & development matched last year’s UKP7m, and the fruits of these, notably the 750MHz NMR magnet announced in January and the ISIS system from Microanalysis released in late 1992, have started to impact the bottom line. But while NMR Instruments and Medical Systems both returned to profit in the year, Microanalysis made an undisclosed loss, although it has high hopes for the recently-announced detector, Gem. Williams stressed this output of new product must continue: From superconducting materials to medical products, our future rests on our innovative vitality and our research and development programmes are at the core of this. He said there could be no complacency about future markets, pointing to the current reorganisation of the US health system which may throw future sales of the MRI magnet into doubt.
However Oxford is going ahead with building its second synchrotron, despite few clear signs of a firm order, and the UKP5.4m cost incurred so far is likely to be extended by a further several more millions over the next two years before its completion in mid-1995. Martin Lamaison, financial director, believes by that time there will be a number of corporates who want a synchrotron for research, such as IBM Corp uses at its East Fishkill facility. Further opportunities for growth are also possible from the Superconducting Supercollider in Texas, the $11,000m programme to study and test electron activity whose US government approval is expected this autumn. Oxford is one of seven international companies pitching for the contract to provide magnetic wire on the project. The wire alone will be worth over $100m, and the project is set to run from 1994 to 1999. Lamaison believes Oxford has the best technical skill of the seven, as well as being uniquely experienced, as it has just completed a smaller but similar deal for Brookhaven Laboratories Inc. Two academics have been appointed to the company’s Technical Advisory Committee, Professor Michael Brady, head of Oxford University’s engineering science department, and Professor Alec Broers, holding the same title at Cambridge University.