UPDATE 2.40pm Allergy-free surgical gloves and a new range of feminine hygiene products are behind Ansell’s latest move to position itself for growth.
Chief executive Magnus Nicolin said Ansell had plans to launch about five times the number of new products in 2012/13 than any other year in the company’s history.
“It’s a rather massive commitment to taking back or grabbing hold in all of our businesses, of being the most innovative player in the business,” he said.
Mr Nicolin’s comments came as Ansell reported a 6 per cent rise in net profit to $130 million for the year to June 30, compared to $122.7 million in the previous financial year.
However, the company was disappointed that its sales came in flat at $1.2 billion.
Among the stable of new products Ansell hopes will drive its future earnings is the surgical glove Sensoprene, which is completely latex and allergy free.
The synthetic glove has been manufactured without the use of chemical accelerants, which can cause about the same amount of allergic reactions as latex.
“We have launched this product worldwide to rave reviews,” Mr Nicolin said.
Synthetic gloves have been one of the fastest growing areas of the market over the past two years, with Ansell directing its efforts to enhancing its own range.
Ansell also built on its sexual wellness brands over the past year with the launch exclusively in Australia of a range of feminine hygiene wash and wipes, under the brand, amele.
“What we are trying to do is market an integrated range that women can find all of the solutions to their needs in one place, under one brand, that they will over time learn to trust,” Mr Nicolin said.
Shareholders also warmed to the idea of a host of new products hitting the market, with Ansell’s shares rising 44 cents to $14.24 at the close.
City Index chief market analyst Peter Esho said shareholders were buoyed by Ansell’s pipeline of new products and its forecast of low double digit earnings growth in 2012/13.
Ansell’s results were broadly in line with market expectations, but distorted by currency movements, he added. Meanwhile, Mr Nicolin said the recent purchase of French medical glove manufacturer Comasec would also impact the future development of Ansell, which remains on the hunt for acquisitions.
Ansell expects lower raw material costs to benefit the company in 2012/13, while foreign currency exchange rates could be problematic.
It declared an unfranked final dividend of 20.5 cents a share, taking the full year dividend to 35.5 cents for 2011/12 compared to 33 cents the previous year.