Boosted by strong European sales and revenues from a recent acquisition, net income at Inveresk Research Group for the third-quarter jumped by more than 30 percent to almost $10 million.

The company reported Wednesday that net income for the third quarter was $9.56 million, a 30.2 percent increase over net income of $7.34 million in the same period in 2002. Inveresk’s profit rose 25 percent to 25 cents per diluted share from 20 cents diluted share.

Third-quarter net service revenue was $70.6 million, up 26.2 percent compared with the year-ago quarter.

The Cary-based company signed $67 million in new contracts during the third quarter, bringing the total to $213 million for the first nine months of 2003.

Walter Nimmo, chief executive officer of Inveresk, said growth in European business helped offset more sluggish North American sales.

“Inveresk Research recorded another strong quarter’s results in terms of profits and cash flows,” Nimmo said. “Year-on-year growth in our European pre-clinical and Phase I operations has been highly creditable, although offset partially by the challenging environment relative to 2002 faced by our North American pre-clinical operations.”

Nimmo also said that the recently acquired PharmaResearch business gave a positive boost to both revenue and profit. Inveresk paid $37.1 million in July for PharmaResearch, a Wilmington-based drug development services group with operations in Morrisville.

For the nine months ended Sept 30, net income rose to $29 million, or 77 cents per diluted share, from $24 million, or 64 cents per diluted share, during the first nine months of 2002. Net service revenue was up to $195.3 million from $164.6 million.

The stock price of Inveresk (Nasdaq: IRGI) was down for the day almost 13 percent, or $3.20, to $22.21 from Tuesday’s close of $25.41.

Goldman Sachs initiated coverage of Inveresk last month with an “In-Line” ranking.