Sage shares leap 32p on record interim

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The Independent Online
SHARES in Sage, the computer software company, jumped 32p to 600p on news of record interim profits and a confident statement about future trading, writes Russell Hotten.

Sales grew strongly in the UK, but the figures also reflected the speedy correction of problems at US operations in the second half of last year.

Taxable profits in the six months to 31 March rose 28 per cent on turnover up 21 per cent to pounds 25.4m.

Sage produces business accounting software packages and runs a support service. Revenues from the maintenance arm were up 23 per cent, and UK sales of software products rose 26 per cent.

David Goldman, chairman, believed the rise pointed not only to a strengthening in the market but to a general rise in economic activity - one he predicted would continue.

In the UK, Sterling, Sage's core product range, remained the market leader. Its new Sterling 2 programme represents almost half Sterling sales.

Operating profit in the US rose from pounds 600,000 to pounds 1.4m. Last year, DacEasy, Sage's US subsidiary, encountered delays in marketing a software package, and there were also management changes. These problems had been overcome in time for a profits turnaround in the first half, Mr Goldman said.

Operating profits in mainland Europe fell pounds 200,000 to pounds 400,000 due to heavy promotional spending rather than recession in the French economy. Sage spends 22 per cent of sales on promotion in France. The dividend is 3.65p (3.32p).