Smiths Group Seals a Healthy Improvement in Profits and Sales

LONDON -- The shares of Smiths Group  (LSE: SMIN  ) were flat at 1,336 pence during early London trade this morning after the detection technology firm confirmed its revenues and underlying profits were higher in the last nine months than last year's corresponding period.

Smiths Group owns John Crane, the world's leading producer of industrial seals, which represents around a third of Smiths' business. The seal specialist enjoyed "sustained underlying revenue growth" for the period, with operating margins benefiting from improved pricing and productivity.

John Crane's order book meanwhile was bolstered beyond last year's volumes, and as a result, Smiths raised its sales outlook for the division to "ahead of the same period last year".

The company's most lucrative segment, Smiths Medical, sells health care equipment predominantly in the United States. Smiths restated today that the division's profitability would be hurt this year by the US Medical Device tax introduced in January.

Medical revenues were ahead of expectations, however, driven by sales of hardware and disposable items in emerging markets.

With a market cap of £5.2 billion, Smith's shares trade at 14 times expected earnings, and offer a prospective dividend yield of 3%.

Of course, whether that valuation, today's update and the future prospects for the health care industry all combine to make shares of Smiths a buy remains your decision.

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