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Sage butters up SMEs in fiscal first half

But US wing of biz still flagging

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British software outfit Sage saw a mild upswing in pretax profit and revenue in the first half of its fiscal year as SMEs tentatively splashed some cash.

The company's boss Guy Berruyer attributed the gentle rise to an "increase in business confidence for SMEs in the period".

Sage reported pre-tax profit was up 5 per cent to £167.2m for the first half ended 31 March, compared to £159.6m in its 2010 H1.

The accountancy software maker posted revenue that rose 3 per cent to £742.7m from £718.9m for the same period a year earlier.

Berruyer cautioned that the "outlook remains uncertain" and admitted that the "picture varies by geography".

He added that the company's troubled North American biz had returned to growth in the period, but despite that the US wing of Sage suffered a 5 per cent decline in its healthcare business.

Indeed the US division remains the lacklustre cousin compared to other regions where Sage operates.

Revenue was flat in the North American wing of Sage's business, with the company reporting sales of £270.9m in that region, with operating profit falling 4 per cent to £57.9m.

The firm hit a brighter note in Europe, where it saw a 5 per cent growth in revenue for the period to £401.5m. In the company's Africa, Australia, Middle East and Asia region sales climbed 13 per cent to £70.3m.

"With growth returning to the business, a large and loyal international customer base, and a strong balance sheet, I am confident that Sage is well positioned to capitalise on its many growth opportunities, and look forward to continued progress in the second half of the year," Berruyer said. ®

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