Aerospace firm Smiths posted a 22 percent rise in annual underlying profit before tax on Wednesday, slightly topping brokerage forecasts, and saw continued sales growth in 2007.

Profit before tax, amortisation, impairment of goodwill and other intangible assets and exceptionals rose to 492 million pounds for the year to July 31, the company said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange.

Analysts had expected underlying profit before tax of 487 million, Reuters Estimates showed last week.

Sales rose to 3.5 billion pounds, up 17 percent.

Underlying operating profit was 520 million pounds.

On a headline basis, operating profit increased by 25 percent, raising the margin on sales by one percent to 14.8 percent, Smiths said.

Smiths lifted its full year dividend by 23 percent to 64.8 pence.

The dividend increase is a reflection of the Board's confidence in the outlook for the current year, Chief Executive Keith Butler Wheelhouse said in the statement.

Smiths supplies plane makers such as Boeing Co., whose deliveries are up this year after record orders in 2005.

It also makes medical equipment and its detection electronics are in demand as governments step up security at airports and other public places.