Small firms help put Sage back on track

Steve Dinneen
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Accountancy software firm Sage Group said yesterday a recovery in spending by small businesses had continued in its first quarter, helping it to hit its forecasts for the period.

This marks the first return to growth in software revenue since the second half of 2007.

Sage, which sells software to 6.3m small and medium-sized businesses, said results for each of its regions were in line with expectations.

The company said in December that organic revenue grew by three per cent in the six months ending September, the second half of its fiscal year.

Chief executive Guy Berruyer said: “Our principal markets continued their gradual recovery in the quarter, and I am pleased that our results were in line with our expectations.”

Sage said it cut its debt to £187m from £219.8m three months earlier.

Meanwhile, German business software maker SAP forecast double-digit revenue growth this year and raised its dividend 20 per cent.

The firm says it wants to refocus investor attention on its future prospects after a damaging court battle with US rival Oracle.

Chief financial officer Werner Brandt said the dividend hike to €0.60 (52p) shows “confidence in our business going forward”.

He said: “We showed rock-solid revenue across the globe [in the fourth quarter], particularly in the fast-growing emerging markets.”

SAP shares closed 1.4 per cent lower at €41.13 as analysts and traders pointed to a strong run-up in the shares prior to the results, adding that the dividend increase was in line with expectations.