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DUREX condom maker SSL International unveiled bullish results last week.

Pre-tax profits fell from pounds 46.9m to pounds 10.9m, but this was largely due to three site closures in Barcelona, Cambridge and Guernsey.

SSL upped its dividend by 12% and said it was confident of achieving double-digit profit growth.

The firm has recently increased investment in its Scholl footcare arm, enjoying a 10% sales rise as a result. It has also bought a 15.5% stake in Eastern European condom distributor BLBV for pounds 25m, and has an option to buy the rest of the company over the next two years.

There will be a demand for contraception even in a global downturn.

The shares have enjoyed a good rise in recent months, and housebroker Cazenove thinks the group could still outperform. They are flagged as a buy.

Most investors want some exposure at the moment to the booming prices of oil and gas.

They could do worse than TGE Marine, the design company that specialises in providing engineering support to shipyards when they build new gas carrying ships.

It is a booming market and TGE has positioned itself at a niche end of it and achieved some very healthy margins including 15% last year.

Germany-based TGE now has a strong order book three years out, by which time revenues are forecast to have jumped from 82m euros (pounds 65m) to 124m euros (pounds 98m).

The company floated on Aim earlier this month, and raised around pounds 63m that will be used to pay off a loan.

The oil and gas sector trades on a price-earnings ratio of around 18 times, and TGE stands now at 17 times, suggesting there is still some upside to the stock. TGE is recommended as a buy.


XSTRATA'S chief executive, Mick Davis, spent nearly pounds 7m on shares in the diversified miner last week.

He took 167,480 at 4,150p each and invested on the day Goldman Sachs increased its target price on the mining group to 4,880p from 3,905p after raising its copper, nickel and coal forecasts.

Shares in Xstrata have gained more than 50% in the past year, helped by soaring prices from the resources it mines.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 26, 2008
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