Optos back on road to recovery with US deal

Picture: Contributed
Picture: Contributed
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DUNFERMLINE-based Optos has agreed a deal that will see the first of its Daytona eye scanning machines operating in the United States.

HVHC, a leading optometry chain with more than 600 
Visionworks stores across the US, will take 100 Daytona units, Optos’a “next generation” of retinal imaging technology. Daytona is a desktop-mounted version of the Scottish firm’s technology which is cheaper to make and sell.

The deal follows an agreement earlier this year which sees Optos delivering 410 Daytona machines to OPSM optometry stores in Australia and New Zealand, helping the company achieve what chief executive Roy Davis yesterday described as a “record year” for installations.

“The key metrics for future 
financial performance have been highly encouraging this year,” Davis, pictured, said in a pre-close trading update that accompanied the announcement of the deal. “We have reported our strongest-ever year of installations, and Daytona is continuing to grow well.”

During the financial year to 30 September, Optos won 1, 270 new customers to increase its installed base of machines by the equivalent of 25 per cent. Within that, it installed 1,145 Daytona devices, towards the upper end of revised forecasts of 1,000 to 1,200.

The figures mark a strong finish to the year for Daytona. In a July trading update, Optos confirmed that it has sold 722 of the machines in the first three quarters.

Optos has put in an eventful financial performance this year, with the shares plunging some 17 per cent in March following a warning over “softer” sales of its devices. That was followed by a similar-sized decline in May after half-year profits collapsed by 90 per cent.

However, sales figures for the third quarter proved more reassuring, as did yesterday’s trading update.

“Overall I am pleased with the strong underlying business performance,” Davis added.

The company – which reports its financial results in dollars – expects full-year revenues to be in the region of $158 million (£99.1m). Profits before tax and exceptional items should be in line with analysts’ consensus, which was lowered following the disastrous first half.

Optos has been cash generative in the second six months of the year, and thus expects to report a reduction in net debt to about $40m. The company’s debts were $55.8m at the end of the first half.

Optos was launched in 1992 by Douglas Anderson after his son went blind in one eye when a retinal detachment was detected too late. Shares in the company, which floated in 2006, edged a quarter of a penny lower yesterday to close at 152p.

Analysts at Investec said that while the update would serve to “dismiss some of the doubters on the value of Daytona”, it preferred “to await the details” of the company’s results in November and reduced its recommendation on the shares.