- First half revenues at Benchmark, the international biotechnology and food chain sustainability business, rose by by 142% to £48.0m with the bulk of the growth (£20.6m) arising from three months of trading from the INVE acquisition.

The acquisitions completed in the financial year 2015 (the companies acquired to create the Breeding and Genetics division and Improve International held within the Technical Publishing division) have also contributed for a full six months in H1 2016.

As a result of the difficult trading conditions faced by the Breeding and Genetics division, revenues in the six month period were £10.7m compared to £9.8m for three months in H1 2015.

Excluding acquisitions, underlying sales increased by 42% mainly due to the improved performance in the Animal Health division. The introduction of new volume supply agreements and rewards for customer loyalty in response to the increased competition for Byelice (Salmosan) have shown improvement in revenues in both Chile and Norway.

Operating costs relating to Trading Activities (excluding amortisation and depreciation) in the first half doubled from the comparative period to £11.5m (H1 2015: £5.7m; FY 2015: £13.7m), with £3.4m of the increase coming from the newly created Advanced Animal Nutrition division.

The remainder of the increase reflects the inclusion of financial year 2015 acquisitions for a full period and increased activity within the Animal Health division. Following the INVE acquisition, group headcount at the half year was 855 (30 September 2015: 402).

The Group continues to separate the statutory IFRS results into Trading Activities and Investing Activities, in line with many of its peers in the sector, to present better the underlying performance and development of the business. This is how the board monitors progress of the existing group businesses. Trading Activities are those related to products and services that have been developed and are producing revenue streams, while Investing Activities relate to the costs associated with acquiring new businesses and products and services being developed for future revenue streams and include a pipeline of vaccines at various stages of the development cycle.

EBITDA from Trading Activities in the first six months was £9.5m, an increase of £8.3m compared to H1 2015, with the bulk of the growth again arising from the post-acquisition profits of the Advanced Animal Nutrition division of £7.1m. The Animal Health division saw an increase in Trading EBITDA to £2.0m (H1 2015: £0.5m loss; FY 2015: £2.1m profit) as sales have recovered against the low volumes in the comparative period.

Earnings per share from Trading Activities of 0.94p is up on last year by 1.47p (H1 2015: loss per share from Trading Activities 0.53p; FY 2015 loss per share 1.13p).

The Group's statutory IFRS earnings (including both Trading and Investing Activities), set out in the Consolidated Income Statement, show an EBITDA loss for the first half of £9.1m (H1 2015: loss of £2.2m; FY 2015: loss £7.2m). Basic and diluted earnings per share are both losses of 3.09p per share (H1 2015: basic and diluted loss per share of 2.49p; FY 2015: basic and diluted loss per share of 5.96p).

Chairman Alex Hambro said: "The integration of INVE Aquaculture into the Benchmark Group has transformed the business and largely completes our divisional structure. The benefit of securing diversified revenue streams is becoming increasingly apparent and we expect further revenue streams to materialise during the remainder of this calendar year as our product development pipeline matures and benefits are reaped from the capital expended upgrading Braintree's vaccine production facility and Ardtoe's aquaculture trials facilities."

At 8:08am: [LON:BMK] Benchmark Holdings Plc Ord 0.1p share price was 0p at 63p

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