Healthcare services provider UDG Healthcare said it managed to deliver a strong and resilient trading performance for the 12 months to the end of September despite the challenges presented by Covid-19.

UDG Healthcare said its group net revenue for the year increased by 5% to $1.153 billion from $1.103 billion last year.

The company's adjusted operating profit rose by 7% to $165.3m from $154.8m, driven by what it called an "exceptionally strong performance" from its Sharp business with its adjusted operating profit increasing by 34%. 

It also reported a "resilient" performance from its Ashfield business with adjusted operating profit decreasing by 4%.

Meanwhile, the company's adjusted profit before tax grew by 4% to $152m from $146.7m the same time last year.

UDG Healthcare has proposed 1.6% increase in final dividend to 12.54 cents per share, giving a full year dividend increase of 1.2% to 17 cents per share.

It said this continues the group's 30 year history of consistently increasing dividends.

UDG Healthcare provides outsourced services which enable over 300 healthcare companies from large pharmaceutical to small biotech, to bring their products to market, while it supports patients to access and adhere to their medications. It also educates and communicates with healthcare professionals and patients on these products.

It has 9,000 employees.

During the year, the Group completing three acquisitions - one in Ashfield and two in Sharp - for a total combined consideration of up to $75m. 

UDG Healthcare said its Sharp business packages critical and life-saving medicines for patients, and so almost 2,000 of its employees were categorised as essential workers during the Covid-19 crisis. 

The company said it introduced new working processes and cleaning regimes, adapted shift patterns, provided additional PPE for all employees and placed restrictions on non-essential visits. 

At the Ashfield technology-enabled business, the majority of workers successfully moved to serve clients remotely.

The company said it continues to use its expertise to support its clients in their efforts to find a treatment for Covid-19. 

"Sharp remains involved in supporting the packaging and distribution of multiple clinical trials and treatments related to Covid-19," it said. 

"Ashfield continues to support on multiple projects, ranging in scale and at various stages of progress, including providing contact centre support to the US government's national 'The Fight Is in Us' campaign working to mobilise people in the US who have recovered from the infection to donate their blood plasma," it added.

UDG Healthcare's chief executive Brendan McAtamney said the company's "strong and resilient trading performance" for the year was ahead of its earnings per share guidance. 

"This was driven by exceptionally strong growth in Sharp, in particular for serialised biotech and speciality packaging. Despite some parts of Ashfield being impacted by COVID-19, we adapted rapidly to support clients virtually and overall Ashfield performed in line with expectations," Mr McAtamney said. 

"UDG Healthcare is a strong and well diversified business, underpinned by excellent long-term market fundamentals as evidenced by our strong financial performance in FY20," the CEO said. 

"We have a robust financial position and will continue to leverage our investments in people, technology and infrastructure to remain well positioned for continued future growth," he added.