Sage Group boosted by software

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STRONG sales of new accounting software packages helped Sage Group to lift taxable profits by a quarter to pounds 5.4m for the half year to 31 March on turnover up from pounds 14.5m to pounds 30m.

The results were also boosted by a pounds 447,000 operating profit from three acquisitions made in the first half at a total initial cost of pounds 5.1m.

The group's underlying business increased its contribution from pounds 4.3m to pounds 4.9m with repeat sales totalling pounds 9.5m. In addition, last year's results were depressed by a pounds 102,000 loss from activities that have since been discontinued.

Despite the recession, UK software sales rose by a fifth thanks to the success of new products. Profits from the UK shot up from pounds 2.9m to pounds 4.2m. Sage said Yorkshire Business Forms, acquired in December, made a satisfactory contribution.

There was a maiden pounds 553,000 operating profit on pounds 2.8m sales from Europe with CIEL, the Paris-based software company acquired last October, exceeding expectations. US operating profits halved to pounds 619,000 despite a jump in sales from pounds 6.4m to pounds 7.8m. The company was hit by the pounds 370,000 costs of a shake-up at Remote Control International, acquired last autumn.

Earnings per share jumped 22 per cent to 17.7p. The interim dividend is up 10 per cent at 3.32p. Sage shares dropped 16p to 603p.