Company of the Week: Misys

MISYS discovered the modern Midas touch last week: it joined the internet revolution. The UK's biggest seller of software to financial companies said it will spend pounds 50m on its internet unit over the next three years to try to get a piece of the UK's online financial services market.

The Worcester-based company, which has an alliance with Healtheon to connect US doctors through the internet, operates Screentrade, an online insurance brokerage, in the UK. It also plans to develop a personal-finance website.

Misys reported accounts for its internet services separately in its report for the year ended 31 May, which analysts saw as a precursor to a spin- off of the unit.

Sales at Screentrade increased 13 per cent each month for the past year. At the current rate of sales it will generate annual revenue of pounds 130,000. That pales against total sales, which rose 30 per cent to pounds 582m this year.

The company said it will spend pounds 10m this year and pounds 20m a year in each of the following two years.

"The financial services market opportunity we are targeting is large," said Kevin Lomax, Misys' chairman. "It is already clear that the internet is acting as the catalyst for a fundamental restructuring of many financial services around the world, so we are setting out to establish a pivotal position in web-based financial services in the UK and beyond."

Investors approved: Misys' shares rose 16 per cent last week. That was their biggest weekly gain since a 32 per cent rise after the company said in January that first-half profit had nearly doubled.

Misys' shares, which trailed the FT-SE 100 index in year-to-date performance until 28 October, have now risen 35 per cent in 1999 - more than three times the 11 per cent gain in the benchmark index. The stock is becoming more liquid, too. More than 23 million shares traded last week, three times the average since 1994.