Natural health products company Comvita reported a $1.62 million profit in the six months to September 20, up from $203,000 in the same period last year.

The natural health products market generally escaped any significant impact of the recessionary downturn, said chief executive Brett Hewlett.

Sales increased 27 per cent to $40.1m and were particularly strong in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Demand for winter wellness healthcare products was particularly strong through the southern hemisphere winter months.

Chairman Neil Craig said net debt of $23.2m had been reduced by $7.1m since March 31 due to the increase in profit and also to a rationalisation of inventory.

The company is experiencing expanding earnings margins and strong cash flows.

It will pay shareholders a dividend of 2 cents per share on December 18.

Craig said the company was confident current sales and earnings momentum would be maintained during the peak sales season, the northern hemisphere winter.

However, the strength of the NZ dollar remains a concern.