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Successful drive into US market boosts sales at Murgitroyd

The drive into the US market by Scotland's intellectual property specialist Murgitroyd is paying off, the AIM-listed group's half-year results have revealed.

Murgitroyd racked up record first-half sales of £19.2 million, a rise of 9% on 2012, while pre-tax profit edged up by 1% to a best-ever £2.28m.

Costs increased by less than 1% and debt was cut from £2.8m to £800,000 on strong cash flows.

The dividend was held at 3.75p and the shares perked up 3p to 650p, just off their all-time high following a 20% rise since October and a near 30% uplift in the past 12 months.

Keith Young, chief executive, said: "A lot of it is to do with general market sentiment and much of it is driven by retail purchases but from our point of view it is pleasing and obviously shareholders are pleased."

The big driver was the US, where turnover rose by one-third to £6.1m to account for more than 30% of turnover for the first time.

Mr Young said: "To see growth where you are targeting it is pleasing. We have obviously spent the last couple of years investing a lot of resource in the US to drive new business, opening offices on both coasts."

US applicants account for a quarter of all European patent filings and Murgitroyd strengthened its US presence with a European patent attorney based in the West Coast office from last month.

European trademark applications were up by 2.5% and patent filings by 2.8% at the end of November 2013, as large corporates continued to squeeze more from their budgets and maintain pressure on pricing. Murgitroyd has five European offices and is mulling a sixth in Paris next year when the city is due to become one of three centres for the new European unitary patent.

The group employs around half its 244 staff in its three Scottish offices, and has six other offices around the UK. On the loss of a Scottish patent court in a proposed centralisation exercise, which has been criticised by the Law Society of Scotland, Mr Young said it was "of interest rather than concern" to Murgitroyd because of its low litigation activity in Scotland.

Ian Murgitroyd, chairman, said: "Our commitment to ongoing investment in business development, improvements in systems and processes, and people, continued in the half year, providing us with a robust platform upon which we can deliver sustainable long-term growth."

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