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Technicians examine a part of Dextre, the two-armed Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, made by MDA


Space technology company MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. has reported a relatively small increase in revenue but a major increase in profit in the third quarter.

The Richmond, B.C., -based company, which also supplies information to the real estate and resource industries, said Wednesday that net quarterly profits rose 33 per cent year over year to $38.3-million, or 93 cents per diluted share.

That compared with year-ago earnings of $28.5-million, or 70 cents a share, the company said in a news release.

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Consolidated revenue was $263.1-million, up from $245.6-million.

Revenue from information systems increased to $142-million from $112-million in the three months ended Sept. 30, while information products revenue totalled $121-million, "consistent with adjusted revenues for the prior-year period before foreign exchange fluctuations."

Order backlog at Sept. 30 was just under $1.2-billion, up from $928-million at the end of June, with the new order intake driven by the communication satellite and UAV surveillance sectors.

The company's cash balances at Sept 30 were $165-million after paying off the revolver loan in the quarter. Long-term debt was $203-million, consisting of two term loans maturing in 2013 and 2017.

Last week, MDA said it would receive the equivalent of about $4.6-million in return for 11 long-term contracts it's divesting because they're no longer fit within its business objectives.

Under the contracts, MDA delivered back-office support for the provision of land and property data to local authorities in the United Kingdom.

Earlier in the week, MDA shares soared to their highest price in several years, spiking at $49.75, after a Bloomberg News report that the company was in talks with potential buyers for some or all of its assets.

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MDA issued a statement that acknowledged it was continually considering strategic options without specifying what deals were under active consideration.

It did, however, make clear that its space hardware division wasn't for sale.

The federal government took the unusual step in 2008 of blocking a previous attempt to sell MDA's satellite division to U.S. defence contractor Alliant Techsystems of Edina, Minn.

The government said the $1.3-billion deal would hurt Canada because it would put control of key satellite technology and information in the hands of a foreign company.

Besides that systems business, MDA is a leading collector and distributor of satellite-collected data and imagery, which is used for a wide variety of purposes from resource exploration to real estate surveying.

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