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Wednesday, March 3, 1999 Published at 09:05 GMT

Business: The Company File

Psion sounds Internet profits siren

Psion faces a titanic tustle with Microsoft

The British palm-top computer company Psion has warned profits will be hit by hefty investment costs in its prized Symbian joint venture to develop wireless Internet services.

The caution came as Psion announced flat underlying pre-tax profits.

Psion has created Symbian with leading mobile phone manufacturers Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola to develop a system allowing Internet access on mobile phones.

"During the current year there will be substantial costs arising at Symbian as the company continues to invest in the development of (its) EPOC (operating system)," Psion said in its 1998 results statement.

"The coming year will be one of major investment in which the group will lay the foundations for future growth."

Phone battle

[ image: Soon he could be dialing into the Internet]
Soon he could be dialing into the Internet
Psion is relying heavily on Symbian for its future success. However, it faces stiff competition from US computer giant Microsoft, which has teamed up with British Telecom to create Internet services via mobile phones and hand-held computers.

Microsoft's founder Bill Gates has moved to compete head-to-head with Psion, after he warned that the British group posed the biggest threat to his stranglehold over the worldwide computer market.

Warning bells

Psion shares have already been hit this year after it warned that challenging market conditions will hit sales at its computer business Dacom.

"Psion Computers is likely to see a slow first half to the year, with growth occurring in the latter part of the year as its product range widens," Psion said.

Psion made an underlying profit of £11.9m in 1998, only a marginal increase on the £11.4m in made in the previous 12 months.

Its final dividend was lifted to 2p from 1.8p, making a total pay-out for the year of 2.8p against 2.5p.

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