Promethean sees sales plunge

INTERACTIVE whiteboard firm Promethean World yesterday revealed a dramatic sales drop in its key North American market, causing its share price to tumble a further 20 per cent.

Blaming “challenging market conditions”, the interim management statement showed revenues of £35.9m for the first quarter of 2012, a 14.4 per cent decline on the same period last year.

The firm floated on the London Stock Exchange in 2010, one of a series of British IPOs – including Ocado and Flybe – that have left investors suffering.

Since then the share price has declined from 200p to just 57.5p at yesterday’s close, and the Blackburn-based company said it expects market conditions during 2012 “will remain challenging, particularly in the US and Europe”.

North American revenues, which account for the majority of the company’s income, were down 40 per cent for the quarter, although this was partially offset by 22 per cent sales growth in other markets, buoyed by a substantial contract win in Russia.

Alex Jarvis, an analyst at Peel Hunt, downgraded the stock from “buy” to “hold” and said: “The second and third quarter are the key trading periods for Promethean, but the volatility in the first quarter leads us to downgrade our 2012 earnings per share forecast by nine per cent. We had hoped that 2012 forecasts were positioned for upgrades.”

The firm said that although it is “too early to determine whether the first quarter result for North America is indicative of the full year outturn” it expects revenues will be more weighted towards the second half of the year.

Volume was well down with Promethean selling approximately 29,000 interactive display systems and 136,000 learner response system handsets in the first quarter of 2012, compared to 32,000 and 172,000 in the same period last year.