Accountancy stocks tumble to new lows

The Accountancy Age/ADVFN index hit 58.2 last Wednesday, the lowest point recorded since the index was launched in April 2001, mirroring a similar low point of 81.3 for the FTSE-100.

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The index, measured from Monday to Friday of last week, bounced back marginally to finish the week at 59.7, in line with a similar rally on the FTSE, which ended a torrid week at 85.4.

The only stock to seriously buck the downward spiral was Xansa, the IT and financial outsourcer, which recovered some ground only a week after warning that it did not expect a pick-up in its business until 2003 at the earliest.

The only other stock to finish up on the week was Sage, the accountancy software giant, which was up 2.75 points at 166 by the close on Friday.

All other stocks in the index took a battering over the week, though showed signs of recovery by Friday.

Misys, the software provider, dropped 20 points during the first half of the week, hitting 211 before recovering to 222.25 by the bell on Friday – inevitably it will be watched very closely when it reveals its results this week.

Recruitment companies in the index suffered only slightly, but it was Capita that showed a more impressive fall of more than 30 points from Monday to Wednesday, but gained ground to finish the week at 294.25.

The business services company was dogged by accounting irregularity allegations and forced to issue a denial, saying a full report would be published this month with its interim results – the company said it would provide a full briefing on its treatment of bid costs and the costs incurred in setting up large outsourcing contracts.

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