- Scientific and medical equipment provider Oxford Instruments reported a 13% rise in annual profit, even as sales weakened in the latter part of its financial year due to the Covid-19 crisis.

Pre-tax profit for the year through March increased to £38.8m, up from £34.3m on-year.

Revenue rose 1.1% to £317.4m, though it fell 0.7% on a constant currency basis.

Oxford Instruments had already announced that it would be suspending its final dividend.

'As a result of continued uncertainty, the board will defer a decision on payment of dividends, but will keep this under review as the year progresses while we assess the impact of Covid-19 on our markets and trading performance,' it said.

Oxford Instruments said its order book had risen 14.2% to £175.0m, assisted by finished goods not shipped or installed at the year end.

Chief executive Ian Barkshire said the coronavirus had continued to impact trading in the first two months of the year, with cumulative orders 3% below a weak comparator period.

Growth in Asia of 19%, he said, was offsetting a reduction in Europe and North America of 23% and 7%, respectively.

A strong uplift in orders for compound semiconductor process solutions had offset a reduction in orders for higher-margin scientific cameras and optical microscopy products.

Revenue was 3% above last year, assisted by delivery of shipments that were held over from the year end due to Covid-19.

'We have an active pipeline of sales opportunities, reinforced by our digital marketing and online sales presence; but activity levels within academic institutions remain low due to continued customer site closures,' Barkshire said.

'It will take some time to understand the impact and longevity of this disruption, and we will continue to take measures to adapt and protect our business throughout this period.'

'Once we have attained an improved level of visibility, we will be in a position to provide guidance on the current year's expected financial outcomes.'

Story provided by