LONDON - Shield Diagnostics Group plc, the company which has ambitions to replace cholesterol tests with its Activated Factor Twelve (AFT) diagnostic as a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk, reported a profit of £462,700 for the fiscal year ended March 31, 1998, compared with a loss of £1.33 million in 1997.

The fiscal 1998 profit was on turnover of £7.43 million, up from £5.75 million a year earlier. However, the stock price fell by 72.5 pence to £5.10 when the financial results were disclosed July 10 following a statement from the company which said it would go back into the red in the current year because of high R&D costs.

The company ended the year with £1.95 million in cash compared with £1.16 million as of March 30, 1997.

Shield claims results of a six-year, 2,500-cohort study carried out by the U.K. Medical Research Council, and due to be published soon, will confirm that AFT measurements provide an early indicator of cardiovascular disease.

This correlation with cardiac events is better than that provided by conventional markers such as cholesterol, the company said.

Earlier this year, Shield agreed to a deal with Abbott Laboratories, of Abbott Park, Ill., to put the AFT test on Abbott's automated immunoassay system. Shield said it is in detailed negotiations to put the test on the instruments of second commercial partner.

The company is also awaiting news of its submission for FDA approval of the diagnostic test. Nuala Moran