Week ahead: Sage to reveal half-year results

Chartered accountant and chief executive Paul Walker at the Newcastle-upon-Tyne-based company must have taken pride last December when a Pirmark Datastream survey recognised the group’s sustained performance as the star stock of the decade.

Armchair investors can pinch themselves with the knowledge that a £100 investment in Sage back in 1990 would now be worth £2.8 million.

This week the group reveals its first half-year results of the millennium and, despite recent market jitters, the upward trajectory looks set to climb.New finance director Paul Harrison can look forward with Walker to revealing another set of figures showing substantial growth.

A takeover in March of French competitor Ubiquis followed pre-Christmas comments that there were few financial constraints holding back continental takeovers.And, despite pulling out in January from the race for rival software manufacturing giant Pegasus, Sage management hit back the following month with the $445m cash takeover of Best Software, the US specialist in payroll applications and asset management.

Walker has been at the centre of the ten year success story from the start. An Arthur Young trainee, Walker moved to Sage in 1984, where he rose quickly to become finance director three years later.

Flotation in 1989 saw the him marshall a full listing on the London Stock Exchange at a market capitalisation of £20m and a £9m turnover.

In 1993, he took over as chief operating officer with responsibility for all the group’s subsidiaries, including the US, France and Germany, before his appointment the following year as chief executive for the whole group.

A decade later and last December, Walker and the then finance director Aidan Hughes were announcing pre-tax annual turnover to the tune of £307m, which had risen 60% by £191.5m since 1998, and pre-tax profits up in just one year by 56% to £74.3m.

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