Accountancy stocks plummets 25%

This is far worse than the performance of the FTSE-100 where, if you had bought into a tracker fund a year ago, you would still have 96% of your investment intact.

The startling result is revealed a year after the launch of the Accountancy Age/ADVFN share index, which has been tracking the plight of ten accountancy-related shares, including recruitment agencies and outsourcing businesses.

Their share prices have mirrored those of the stock market, but the mirrors are more in line with those found at funfairs.

Of course, if you only held your portfolio for six months and bailed out in October then you would have got less than 60% of your investment back.

Share prices had been falling long before the attacks of 11 September last year, with the biggest fall coming in July when recruitment consultancies Reed International and Robert Walters saw their share prices plummet.

Post October, the index rallied, creeping back to 90% of its value by the close of the year, but the portfolio has since fallen.

During its first year, the index lost QSP, the accounting software provider, which went into receivership – its shares were suspended in October 2001, and the plug was finally pulled while the firm was exhibiting at Softworld a week later. Xansa, the computer outsourcing business, joined the index in its place.

But Logica, another computer services company, showed the most impressive fall in share price – on 23 March 2001, when the index first began measuring the share prices, it traded at 1076p. By 4 April 2002 it was trading at 413, a fall of more than 60%.

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