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First-quarter profits boost Icon's share price by 7pc

SHARES in the pharmaceuticals company Icon jumped nearly 7pc yesterday after the company reported quarterly profits in line with market expectations.

The company said earnings for the first three months of the year after tax and restructuring charges fell by nearly $14m (€9.6m) year on year to $8.3m.

Net income before restructuring stood at $12.8m. Those profits came on the back of revenue of $229.2m -- some $10m ahead of the same period last year. Diluted earnings per share were down nearly two-thirds at 14c.

The restructuring charge in the quarter is said to relate to specific redundancy and lease costs associated with Central Labs -- Icon's clinical trials arm -- and a regional office.

Chief executive Peter Gray was satisfied with his group's results.

"2011 has started in line with expectations. With strong gross bookings of $329m, a strengthening pipeline of new opportunities and the Central Lab progressing as planned, we believe we are on track for a return to growth in the second half," he said. Mr Gray added that he was in the market to make acquisitions.


"We continue to look for ways to increase our scale in the laboratory business. We have a team now looking for acquisition opportunities."

Davy Stockbrokers' Jack Gorman also welcomed the results.

"The Q1 message was broadly positive. Management indicated that the trading outlook is encouraging.

"One quarter does not make a trend, but it is worthwhile noting that gross wins, in dollar terms, were the second highest out-turn for some nine quarters."

"Net cash was healthy at $232m. 2011 guidance is unchanged and remains weighted towards the second half of the year.

"Our forecast is within this range and also remains intact.

"This is a steady start to the year for Icon, although it would have been a major surprise if guidance from late February had not been met.

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Full year 2011/2012 targets still require strong business win trends over the coming quarters, but visibility is encouraging thus far," he said.

Icon closed up 6.98pc at €16.10, the third leading stock on the ISEQ.

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