Delphi shares crash by 15%

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The Independent Online
INVESTORS were yesterday reminded of the dangers of investing in information technology stocks when Delphi, the IT recruitment and services company, reported disappointing results after apparently losing control of its US subsidiary.

Shares in Delphi crashed 124p - or 15 per cent - to 703.5p after the company reported pre-tax profits of pounds 14.1m - well below analysts' expectations of pounds 15.5m.

Tony Reeves, chairman and chief executive, said the shortfall was because US staff did not work as many hours as expected in the final quarter of the year, but were still paid. "Most of our contractors are on the payroll," he said. "But during the final quarter it turned out that many of them were sick or on holiday."

He also admitted that Delphi's management systems had failed by not warning them of the shortfall earlier.

Industry experts were perplexed at the news. "If you can't produce excellent figures in this market, which is right at its peak, then when can you?" asked Ingrid von Hentschel, IT analyst with Beeson Gregory. Another observer said the figures were "very, very poor".

The problems have forced Delphi to abandon its plans to carry out a fundraising on Nasdaq, the US hi-tech stock market. Last year, the company came under fire from shareholders over plans to raise pounds 35m from US investors. Although the company eventually won permission from its shareholders to go ahead with the listing, it promptly delayed the move until the spring of this year.

Permission for the fundraising expires at the end of April, which means that Delphi will have to ask shareholders for their approval again. Last night, experts said there was "no chance" that would be granted. But Mr Reeves maintained that a Nasdaq listing was important if the company was to be able to offer its US employees a stake in the business.