Key Points:

The strong New Zealand dollar has contributed to a 28.8 per cent fall in Fisher & Paykel Healthcare's half year net profit after tax to $18.7 million.

The result for the six months to the end of September compared with $26.3 million for the same period last year.

It was also affected by increased expenses for research and development, sales and operations, Healthcare said today.

An unchanged interim dividend of 5.4c, carrying full imputation credits, will be paid.

The company's trading revenue from ordinary activities increased by 0.4 per cent to $172.5 million, while earnings before interest and tax were down 24.1 per cent to $31.2 million.

Healthcare said it expected a continuation of strong underlying revenue growth across its product range for 2008.

Trading revenue was expected to grow to about $365m, or US$275m, for the 2008 financial year, generating an operating profit of about $68m if the NZ dollar averaged US75c for the rest of the financial year.

For the six months to September, strong volume growth had continued in its obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), respiratory and acute care products, Healthcare said.

Increasing demand, particularly for masks, respiratory consumables and neonatal devices, along with expanding activities in international markets all contributed to growth.

In US dollar terms OSA product group operating revenue increased by 21 per cent and respiratory and acute care product group operating revenue increased by 15 per cent compared to the same period last year.

Healthcare chief executive Michael Daniell said the company continued to gain share within the rapidly growing OSA treatment market, with 25 per cent growth, in US dollar terms, for total mask and flow generator operating revenue.

"Demand for our neonatal care product range, which includes infant warmers, bubble CPAP systems and resuscitators, was particularly strong," he said.

"This, coupled with ongoing growth in respiratory humidification consumables generated robust growth in our respiratory and acute care product group."

Progress was being made in developing opportunities for the company's technologies beyond the traditional intensive care market, Mr Daniell said.

Those opportunities included patients requiring non-invasive ventilation, oxygen therapy, humidity therapy and laparoscopic surgery.

"Our United States distribution partner has secured a significant hospital group purchasing contract for respiratory humidifier systems which we expect will contribute to accelerated growth in the second half," he said.

Healthcare's products are sold in more than 110 countries, with US dollars contributing 59 per cent of revenue, euros 23 per cent, Australian dollars 8 per cent, sterling 5 per cent, and NZ dollars 2 per cent.

During the latest half year the NZ dollar had averaged US74c, 17 per cent higher than the US63c average for the same period last year, the company said.

- NZPA