Hemscott shares soar on profits promise

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The business and financial information provider Hemscott issued a bullish trading statement yesterday, predicting full-year figures would be "significantly ahead of current market expectations".

Shares in the AIM-listed company jumped 7.5p to end up 27 per cent at 35p after its unexpected announcement about its results to 31 December.

Hemscott also announced that Winston Fletcher, one of its directors, had doubled his stake by buying 100,000 shares at 37p a piece. The shares traded as high as 211p in 2000. The company's chief executive, Ros Wilton, said that the sudden upturn in the retail market, beginning in May, together with a "general change in sentiment" had helped the company make a "large increase in the sale of retail products" as private investors had looked to return to the equity markets.

This in turn had led to a stronger advertising market with the company also benefiting from "much more acceptance of the internet for marketing", she added.

Hemscott has suffered from a string of losses as investors' interest in equity markets flagged after the technology bubble burst in 2000 but Ms Wilton said a "wall of money was suddenly coming back in" and that the company had seen "strong net new growth".

Ms Wilton said that subscriptions for the company's "Analyst" share-tipping service had been particularly strong with "several hundred" additions in the past few months as investors looked to take advantage of "very undervalued stock".

The company's house brokers, KBC Peel Hunt, reduced its forecast for a full-year pre-amortisation loss from £1.4m to £1m, although it left its revenue forecast unchanged at £6.4m, commenting that the overall improvement in the loss figures "results from higher margins on improved business mix and cost efficiencies".

The company also noted that it was "cash flow neutral for the first time throughout the third quarter of the year", aided by lower marketing, systems and staff costs.