Pace set-top boxes ready to storm US as profits surge

Pace Micro Technology plans to conquer the US with its television set-top boxes after shrugging off component shortages to unveil strong first-half figures.

Pace’s pre-tax profits rose 41% year-on-year to £17.9m in the six months to December, with sales up 31% to £206m.

The west Yorkshire-based company has boosted the number of engineers it employs by 41% to more than 500 over the last year, reflecting its determination to stay at the cutting edge of home entertainment technology.

That ambition now extends to the US cable TV market where Pace has signed agreements with two of the largest operators, Time Warner and Comcast. The company hopes to begin shipments to Time Warner in the spring and Comcast later this year. The US cable market is a potential goldmine for Pace, and some analysts this week suggested the much-touted economic slowdown could actually help the company if more Americans decide to save money by staying in to watch TV.

Pace also wants to boost its European presence, and secured new cable business in Spain and Portugal during the first half.

Chief executive Malcolm Miller said the strong results came despite ‘the most difficult supply environment in recent years’ which saw component shortages wreak havoc with manufacturing production. Pace expects the situation to ease in the second half as seasonal demand for consumer electronic products falls away and new capacity comes on stream.

Looking ahead, Miller said Pace was positioning itself to broaden its portfolio of products beyond set-top boxes. Over the next three to four years it expects to begin earning significant revenues from new market segments such as home networking and advanced telecoms services.

To help it achieve this, Pace will create dedicated teams to focus on each of its target ‘home gateway’ technologies.