SOUTH AFRICAN PRISM STRONG ENOUGH TO GO IT ALONE

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Technology developer Prism has delivered on a promise of impressive growth with a 66% surge in headline earnings a share, prompting CEO Alvin Els to hope the figures would not be ignored by a market more interested in the prospect of a takeover."These are good, solid results and we don't want that overshadowed by speculation of a take-over," he said.

Prism's shares have been on a run since it said various companies had offered to buy out all or part of its business."If you look at our results there's absolutely no need to do any deal because the business is going well and our cash generation is good.

"Anything we are looking at is because it's attractive to us, not because we are worried or are unsustainable alone," Els said.

Prism's results show headline earnings a share up from 1,5c to 2,5c for the six months to December 31, on a more modest revenue rise of 23%, from R140m to R171m.

Cash reserves stood at R53m and current liabilities at R65,7m.

Els said growth came from capitalising on growing demand for its proprietary technologies, which include SIM cards, smart cards, electronic payment terminals and software for conducting secure transactions over the internet or via cellphone.

The healthier figures were also achieved by a 57-million-share buy-back and on a slightly weaker rand, which affected the exchange rate.

Operating costs rose 19% through investment in software development and marketing activities to take its technologies to new countries.

Prism's Transaction Security and Services division recently won a deal with ExxonMobil to supply payment terminals for petrol forecourts in eight countries.

Its EasyPay division, which allows consumers to pay certain bills at retail outlets, showed solid growth as new retailers signed up and payment volumes grew. EasyPay began processing television licence and traffic fine payments last year.

Coming under pressure was its chip and wireless division, which produces cellphone chips and smart-card technologies. That division was hit by stiff competition and falling prices from excess global production.

Business Day