NSB fails to meet forecasts for the fourth time in two years

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The market has taken revenge on NSB Retail Systems after the software company disappointed for the fourth time in less than two years.

NSB warned that operating profits this year would miss forecasts by close to 30 per cent after losing a contract to supply a British store chain. It has also suffered because other UK retailers have delayed orders.

The investment bank Old Mutual cut its current year pre-tax profit forecast for NSB from £18.9m to £13.5m. The shares plunged 35 per cent to a new 12-month low of 44.5p, chopping NSB's market value to £141m. At their peak early last year they were worth about £1bn.

Analysts were annoyed that the warning came soon after the chief executive, Nikki Beckett, gave a relatively upbeat presentation while on a visit to the base of NSB's recent acquisition, STS Systems, in Montreal. They said that Ms Beckett, 39, has earned a reputation for disappointing the market. The last three sets of results have missed forecasts.

There are also concerns that NSB could be forced to pay almost £27m to three directors who were awarded options when they sold STS to NSB. They can ask for 150p a share in cash in return for their options if the share price fails to recover by the end of the year.

Ms Beckett founded NSB in 1995 and was Britain's second highest-earning woman last year after she sold shares worth £14m. She still owns a £16.1m stake.