Micro Focus shares jump

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SHARES in Micro Focus Group gained 92p to pounds 15.45 yesterday after the software products company shrugged off difficult trading conditions to report a 5 per cent jump in first-half profits.

The taxable result is up from almost pounds 9m to pounds 9.4m despite adverse currency movements, which depressed profits by about pounds 500,000.

Fully diluted earnings rose from 41.1p to 44.5p a share.

The outcome was in line with market expectations and helped to revive the shares, which have fallen from a peak of pounds 23.75 since February on fears that the company would not be able to buck a gloomy trading climate in the US, its principal market.

Paul O'Grady, chairman, said the shares had fallen because many of the company's US rivals were suffering from depressed demand. However, Micro Focus had continued to benefit from buoyant sales, up from pounds 25.4m to pounds 30.1m.

The company specialises in developing software in the Cobol programming language for mainframe-based computer users.

In May, Micro Focus announced about 20 new products, which it expects will make an impact in its second half.

'We believe this will enable us to sustain the current levels of growth . . . assuming no further downturn in the world economy,' Mr O'Grady said.

Analysts expect the company to increase taxable profits from pounds 18m to about pounds 22m for the full year to 31 January. Net cash in the first half improved from pounds 24m to pounds 28.5m.

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