Bottom Line: Rare track record

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The Independent Online
ANOTHER day, another new technology issue. Clinical Computing, though, has some distinguishing characteristics.

One that is likely to attract publicity is the presence as chief executive of Jeremy Woan, former deputy chief executive of Tadpole Technology. He helped to bring Tadpole to market just over a year ago - since when it has been one of the raciest stocks around - but left because of personality clashes.

Personalities apart, Clinical Computing differs from some of the other technology offerings. It was founded 14 years ago and has made operating profits, a relatively rare track record for software companies seeking capital. The company is also raising money to finance an expanded sales and distribution network, not just to develop a product. It already has a successful product and, moreover, in the niche market of health care with its high entry barriers.

The transition from a small firm run by boffins and selling the software by word of mouth to a growing commercially run business with proper marketing could be tricky. But the small placing, raising only pounds 3.1m net of expenses, at a price implying a modest p/e ratio of 20, means the shares should reach a healthy premium.

Clinical's niche is also far easier to buy into than to grow into. It would make a tasty acquisition for a bigger company in the next, inevitable, round of rationalisation in the software industry.

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