A strong second half helped to return Britain's Trafficmaster plc to profit in 2003 and the journey-planning firm said on Thursday it had made a strong start to the current year, Automotive News Europe said.

The firm, whose satellite navigation system is recommended by 14 car makers including MG Rover, Subaru, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz and BMW, also agreed an all-share offer for rival Yeoman Group, provider of navigation services to mobile phones.

The offer of 0.1188 new Trafficmaster shares for each Yeoman share values Yeoman at 2.15 million pounds ($3.9 million). Trafficmaster had pre-tax profits of 0.55 million pounds in 2003 after a 63.3 million pound loss the previous year that was mostly made up of asset write-downs.

The firm returned to profit in the second half after a 0.77 million pound first half loss.
Profits were driven in all four divisions -- satellite navigation, vehicle tracking, traffic information services, and a fleet tracking service in the United States.

The biggest growth was in its SmartNav satellite navigation system, which tells drivers how to get to their destination and avoid traffic jams en route.