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11 September, 2009 - 08:13 By Tony Quested

Abcam opens Hong Kong office to hit mainland China and exploit Asia play

Analysts were falling over themselves to upgrade their 2010 full-year forecasts for Abcam plc as the Cambridge antibodies dotcom posted a blistering set of results for the year to end-June.

The share price soared almost 15 per cent at one point before settling at a more modest 796.50p – still a 9.11 per cent increase – and keeping the company on a relentless march towards a £300m market cap, just 11 years after its relatively humble birth.The recession-busting performance, achieved against a backdrop of one of the worst financial meltdowns in economic history, won’t be the end of the story judging by the way Abcam has positioned itself for further growth.It has expanded its facilities in both Cambridge and Tokyo and is seeing further upswells in business in North America. It is also in the process of opening a sales & marketing office in Hong Kong to serve the local market and mainland China. New distributors have been hired to increase Abcam’s coverage in South America.Sales in the year increased by 55.2 per cent to £56.8m and the company benefited significantly from the weakness of sterling, which had a positive impact on reported sales. Within that figure, underlying sales growth at constant currency rates was still very strong at 27.8 per cent and Abcam reports “significant progress” in each of its main markets. Pre-tax profits increased by 118.5 per cent to £17.4m while the product range grew by 19.1 per cent  to around 52,400 antibodies and related products – up from 44,000 in 2008. Abcam had net cash and short-term investments of £25.5m – almost double the 2008 figure – while  EPS rose 106.3 per cent to 34.83p per share.  The board has recommended a final dividend 106.1 per cent higher to 9.40p per share, giving a total increase in dividend for the year of 116.2 per cent to 12.11p (2008: 5.60p).Chairman David Cleevely said: “We are presenting our results for the 2009 financial year against a backdrop of one of the most challenging global economic environments for many years. “It therefore gives me particular pleasure to be reporting on an outstanding performance and the excellent progress made during the year. “The potential impact of the global recession on our business is difficult to assess but trading has begun well in the new financial year, reflecting the robust and defensive nature of our markets.“Our North American and Japanese offices have both had excellent years and grown significantly. Asia represents an opportunity for us which is as yet relatively untapped – hence the launch of the Hong Kong operation.”

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