The Investment Column: Plenty for Sugar to do at Viglen

Viglen Technology, the personal computer group spun out of Alan Sugar's Amstrad last August, has not exactly covered itself in glory in its brief life on the market. The shares started trading at around 65p but collapsed in November following a profits warning and have been steadily drifting lower ever since. Yesterday they closed another 3p lower at 34.5p following disappointing half-year profits of pounds 2.2m, down from pounds 5.1m the previous year.

Viglen has been struggling with weak margins and the erosion of average selling prices. Meanwhile its retail operation, run in conjunction with Dixons, has not worked and sales were much lower than anticipated over Christmas.

Cash sales to small businesses have also been under pressure in a highly competitive market. Total sales were pounds 5.7m lower than the previous year.

All this has proved too much for Alan Sugar, who is to take the reins as executive chairman of the group and use his marketing know-how to stimulate sales. Mr Sugar, who owns 35 per cent of the group, is keen on pursuing links with schools and universities, which yields sales of pounds 15.6m.

He is also keen to move away from just selling PCs towards a service- oriented group. The company has been building up its network computers business which installs systems in companies. A deal is expected next week.

But while Mr Sugar's entrepreneurial skills are well proven, the City expressed mixed feelings about his plans for the group and the size of his stake. Mr Sugar feels the shares are grossly under-valued and a feeling persists in the City that he may try to take the group private.

This is not much comfort to shareholders, however, who have seen their investment lose almost half its value since August. On analysts' forecasts of pounds 5m this year the shares trade on a forward rating of 12. Mr Sugar may produce some fireworks but for now that level looks about right.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Angel Di Maria is shown the red card
Roger Federer after his win over Tomas Berdych
Life and Style
News in briefs: big pants in 'Bridget Jones's Diary'
fashionBig knickers are back
James Milner is set to sign for Liverpool this week despite rival interest from Arsenal
sportReds baulk at Benteke £32.5m release clause
The controversial Motor Neurone Disease Association poster, featuring sufferer Michael Smith, has drawn a series of angry complaints
newsThis one has been criticised for its 'threatening tone'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Guru Careers: Communications Exec / PR Exec

£25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...

Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral