Viglen: new focus and name but the same results
PC builder moves away from public sector and onto education
PC builder and Internet scout Viglen has released its year-end results - and they look much the same as last year's. Sales are down slightly from £90.1 million to £87.0 million, operating profit is up slightly to £3.0 million (from £2.8 million), profit before tax is down £0.6 million to £3.7 million and earnings per share is up 36 per cent to 3.03p. Although none of this is very sexy, shareholders will be pleased - due to "exceptional tax credits received in the year" dividends have been pumped up by 2.25p to 3.00p.
However, underlying the results is an interesting change in the company's direction. Previously, the most interesting thing about Viglen was its chairman Alan Sugar and the scandal over its share boost when the editor of The Mirror was quizzed over insider dealing.
But this will be the last year that the results will come from Viglen Technology plc. Apparently, due to the increasing focus on education, shareholders will be asked at this year's agm for permission to change the company name to Learning Technology plc. It will also shift the financial year-end from 30 July to 30 September - to fit in with academic institutions better. We get the feeling that Viglen is quite serious about that education malarkey.
Mr Sugar gave the usual chairman's rundown, the salient points of which are:
- Education now accounts for nearly half Viglen's turnover
- It is targeting schools with an all-in-one package that covers everything from the hardware to Net access, LANs etc.
- It is picking up training accreditation so it can deliver this all-in-one service
- It has launched SAN product Bluewater
- The gain is education sales has been matched with a loss in the public sector
- Its Internet arm, VigEcom, is looking for more acquisition targets
- It sees itself as having changed from "a simple PC manufacturer to a full service 'turn key' systems integrator"
As for the general state of the company, Alan had this to say: "I am particularly pleased that during the past two years despite heavy investment in extra staffing and infrastructure we have maintained profitability while changing our emphasis to the education market. The benefits of the investments made will be reaped in the future years."
The announcement that Viglen was to invest in Internet markets sent shares rocketing in February but this just as quickly shot back down to the level they were at before. The scandal came when it was discovered Piers Morgan, editor of The Mirror, had bought a large number of Viglen shares the day before his City Slickers column highly tipped them. Morgan was cleared of insider dealing in the end but the two journalists running the column were quickly dispatched. ®
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