Afrox released its annual financial results for the year ended 30 September 2005 with the industrial business growing by 16 per cent.

Following the successful disposal of the healthcare business, plans have been announced for significant investments to drive further growth. The final dividend has been increased by 29 per cent, and the total for the year by 25 per cent.

Rick Hogben, chief executive of Afrox, said: \\$quot;Continued growth of our core business, at 16 per cent per year, is in line with our expectations and our gearing at 16,1 per cent allows for future expansion. With the disposal of Afrox Healthcare, over and above our normal capital expenditure, we have allocated R453 million specifically for new growth projects. We believe this will add further growth to profits in the future.\\$quot;

\\$quot;The projects will include six new bulk gases projects and the total re-engineering of our gases operations centre in Germiston. This centre is already the biggest gas production, cylinder filling and distribution centre in the southern hemisphere. We will also expand the capacity of our welding consumables factory in Brits and will be adding new products for both local and export customers.\\$quot;

Once again, Afrox produced very sound results, but as a result of the sale of Afrox Healthcare in March this year, the interpretation of the results is somewhat complicated. Afrox as it stands today includes gases, welding and related products, and a 20,1 per cent interest in Life Healthcare. On this basis, revenue increased 14 per cent to R3,3 billion, operating profit was higher by 12 per cent at R685 million and headline earnings per share were 37 percent higher at 160 cents.

Finance director, Cor van Zyl said that the profit before tax from the industrial operations, excluding associate profit and related income, increased by 11 per cent to R654 million and headline earnings per share improved by 16 per cent to 135,9 cents. The cash generated from operations increased by 30 per cent to R829 million.

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