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Symbian sale drives Psion into the black

One-off gains fuel turnaround

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Psion has turned resolutely away from the Symbian operating system, but it is unlikely to find an easy fortune in its new focus on industrial handheld devices.

In the six months to the end of June, Psion had turnover of £63.4m from continuing operations, which nearly matches the £63.3m in turnover it had in the corresponding period of 2003. However, it enjoyed a profit of £94.9m for the period, with earnings per share of £0.22, compared to a loss of £11m in the corresponding period of 2003, when the company had per share losses of £0.02.

The difference is explained by the one-off gains and charges that the company took during the two periods. In the first six months of 2003 the company took a charge of £1.7m to reorganise its Teklogix division, which produce handheld industrial devices. In the first half of 2004 it made a gain of £93.5m when it sold its share of Symbian to other stakeholders.

"Psion are looking to establish themselves in new areas, there are certain costs associated with that," Chris Jones, analyst at Canalsys, told ElectricNews.Net. "Psion is now a much smaller player than it was in the past."

Psion has become a less significant company in the wireless market by selling its shares in the Symbian consortium, which produces the Symbian operating system for smart phones. Jones points out that the marketplace for industrial handheld devices is a small market and that Psion will be competing with the producers of tablet PCs.

"The will be a place for Psion's products, but price will be a pressure point, because tablet PCs have come down tremendously in price," said Jones. "Because handhelds last a long time, their price over time is comparable to tablet PCs."

In its outlook, Psion said that the steadily improving economic background was offset by the continuing weakness of the US dollar, as a result of which it was maintaining a "cautious approach to the future." In London on Tuesday in mid morning trading, Psion shares were down two per cent to £0.55.

Copyright © 2004, ENN

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