The Investment Column: Change at the top doesn't stop Druid

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The Independent Online
Despite changes at the top yesterday, it looks like business as usual for Druid, the high-flying IT consultancy. Floated at 275p last year, the group has yet to disappoint. After another strong set of results, with full-year profits to June up 66 per cent to pounds 5m, the group's shares closed at 497.5p, 2.5p up. This was despite the loss of MD David Thompson, who is retiring because of ill health. The market was reassured by his replacement, John Pocock, Druid's commercial director who has been with the company for years and should maintain its winning formula.

Druid's business is providing a package of management consultancy and IT solutions to blue-chip clients. Some 90 per cent of its turnover flows from installing SAP, a German software system which computerises and centralises management's financial controls. Worries that demand for SAP will tail off look premature. Besides, Druid is seeking alternatives.

Also encouraging is that Druid has avoided jumping on the millennium timebomb bandwagon and so looks relatively insulated from the chronic shortage of computer programmers. Rather than employing computer programmers, it prefers to recruit people who have business experience and then train them as IT management consultants. As a result staff turnover is low. A prospective p/e of 29 is hardly a bargain, but not yet too high. Fairly priced.