Mobile currency dents Sage profits

Sage Group, the accounting software company, became the latest victim of foreign exchange movements yesterday.

Currency fluctuations, particularly in the French franc, dollar and German mark, knocked pounds 5.5m from the group's half-year sales and more than pounds 1m from the pre-tax profit figure.

The currency impact forced Sage shares lower in early trading in spite of a 20 per cent increase in interim profits to pounds 19.3m.

However, the shares later recovered to close 1.5p higher on the day at 654.5p.

Profits in all main markets, the UK, US and mainland Europe, grew.

Sage expressed confidence that the pounds 40m acquisition of KHK, Germany's largest vendor of accounting software, would prove beneficial with Sage working to improve margins.

In France the removal of overlapping product ranges cost pounds 2.5m in the first half while in the US operating profits rose by 16 per cent.

On current trading, David Goldman, chairman, said the second half had started well and he expected the outcome for the full year to be satisfactory.

Group sales were 2 per cent higher at pounds 73.6m in the six months to 31 March. The dividend was increased by 10 per cent to 0.97p.