Market watcher Ernst & Young has blamed the recent spate of IT sector profit warnings on young and inexperienced firms listing on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) before they are ready.
Profit warnings from UK-listed software and computer services firms hit 11 in January 2007, with nine of them coming from AIM-listed firms.
John Hughman, senior technology analyst at Ernst & Young, told CRN that the sector had seen “solid results” from the bigger players and pinned the blame firmly on their less-established counterparts.
“The profit warnings have come predominantly from sub-scale, more recent entrants to the market where single contracts count big,” he said. “Arguably, there has been a rush to market and the thorough due diligence process has perhaps slipped.
“The AIM market has been incredibly fertile ground for IPOs [initial public offerings] over the past couple of years and a large number have been from the technology sector. But a company shouldn’t come to market unless it is a robust business with a solid niche and growth prospects that are fully qualified.”
Scott Fletcher, managing director at VAR ANS, which is listed on the PLUS market, said: “Going to AIM can put companies under a lot of strain, so firms need to be confident they can make a return. My advice to companies looking to raise finances with a turnover of less than £10m is to list on the PLUS market.”
Keith Humphreys, managing consultant at research firm EuroLAN, said: “The companies I’ve spoken to that have listed on AIM have been delighted with it, but maybe AIM has made it too easy to list compared with the NASDAQ.”
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