EYE scanner company Optos yesterday unveiled a record rise in customer numbers as the City shrugged off a 62 per cent drop in the firm’s full-year profits.
The Dunfermline-based firm had already warned investors that its pre-tax profits would be much lower this year because fewer customers were due to renew their contracts.
A total of 1,271 customers installed Optos’ machines in the year to 30 September, taking its client base up to 5,945.
Chief executive Roy Davis highlighted the growth in demand for its new Daytona device, which is cheaper to make but gives doctors improved pictures of their patients’ eyes.
Davis, pictured, told The Scotsman: “It took Optos 11 or 12 years to reach the 4,000 customer mark and now we’ve added a further 1,500 Daytona customers in 18 months. Considering we had a manufacturing blip with the Daytona during the first quarter of the year, this performance is close to outstanding.”
His comments came as Optos posted a 19 per cent drop in revenues to $159.5 million (£99.1m), as flagged in the company’s pre-close trading update in October.
Underlying revenues – which take into account the shift from customers leasing machines to buying them out-right – climbed by 4 per cent.
Pre-tax profits plunged 59 per cent to $9.5m, although this marked an improvement from the half-year figures, when profits fell by 90 per cent.
Optos – which was launched in 1992 by Douglas Anderson after his son went blind in one eye when a retinal detachment was detected too late – reports in dollars because much of its business takes place in the United States.
Davis is now keen to expand Optos’ reach in the diabetes market, where its machines are used to track the number of lesions in patients’ eyes that can lead to blindness.
“Somewhere in the world, one person goes blind every 30 seconds due to diabetes,” Davis said. “That’s totally avoidable.”
He said that Optos was developing more software for its machines to improve the information available to eye doctors from its scans.
Charles Weston, an analyst at Numis Securities, said: “2013 was a tough year for Optos, but with Daytona momentum now being sustained, we are increasingly confident that the company can deliver substantial profit growth over the next few years.”
Canaccord Genuity analyst Julie Simmonds added: “Japan has been particularly strong, and Optos sees new opportunities in the Middle East and South America. New products and new geographic markets underpin our expectation for an accelerating growth rate.”
But Nicholas Keher, an analyst at Investec Securities, maintained his “reduce” recommendation on the stock.
He said: “Whilst, to us, the company appears to be on more of a sure footing and management guidance appears achievable for 2014, we would still advise selling into strength for better returns elsewhere.”