AIT shares slump after delay in key order

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The Independent Online

Shares in the software provider AIT Group slumped 38 per cent yesterday after issuing a profit warning due to delays to a key overseas order.

Shares in the software provider AIT Group slumped 38 per cent yesterday after issuing a profit warning due to delays to a key overseas order.

The company said profits for the financial year would be lower than expectations but still ahead of last year's level.

James Mitchell, an analyst at Arbuthnot, the house broker, slashed his sales and profit forecasts as the shares tumbled from 53.5p to 33.25p.

AIT revealed that it has been hit by delays in an expected order from a foreign public services organisation for its core Portrait software product.

Portrait allows organisations to knit together data on customers that had been held separately into one system that can be updated in real time. It allows workers to view all a company's information on a particular customer at once.

It has increasingly been found to have applications in the public sector as well, particularly among local authorities and police forces.

AIT had expected to win a new licence this year for Portrait from an unnamed overseas local authority. But the tendering process for the licence has lasted longer than it had been led to believe. "This delay ... will result in less revenue being able to be booked in the current financial year," it said.

The broker has cut its pre-tax profit estimates for the year, ending March 2005, from £3.1m to £1.5m, and for the next year from £5.1m to £2.5m. It has also lowered its sales forecasts from £21m to £17m for the current year and from £25m to £19m for the year to March 2006.

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