SOFTWARE giant Sage admitted it has concerns about parts of its European market but says it is aiming to grow the business by 3% in its next financial year.
The Newcastle Great Park-based plc said the business delivered a solid performance in a difficult market as it posted a slight rise in full-year earnings and profits for the 12 months to the end of September.
Turnover rose to £1,340.2m from £1,334.1m and pre-tax profits stood at £334.3m, compared to £330.8m a year ago.
Chief executive Guy Berruyer said the company achieved “strong growth” in recurring revenues but that trading had varied across its global markets.
He said: “There is a mixed trading environment. The UK and Germany are good, but Spain and France are challenging with the economic backdrop.
“North America improved in the second half and Asia/Africa saw double-digit revenue growth.”
Sage achieved a 2% annual growth in organic revenues, rising to 3% growth in the second half.
This was helped by a 6% jump in subscriptions, which now make up 69% of the company’s sales.
During the year, Sage made three acquisitions in the booming Brazilian market.
“Our acquisitions in Brazil represent an important step in building our presence in this high-growth market,” said Mr Berruyer.
“It’s always difficult and dangerous to talk about future acquisitions. Our future acquisition strategy is unchanged. We are looking to expand into new markets and adding to portfolios in existing markets.
“Buying technology also remains a possibility.”
Sage, which mainly sells accounting software to small and medium-sized firms, is now aiming to continue the 3% growth seen in the second half into its new financial year. The company expects trade to improve in the US but still harbours concerns about the European market, particularly France.
Mr Berruyer said: “Our ambition is to double our historic organic revenue growth from 3% to 6% by 2015.
“There is an uncertain economic outlook but we are experts at managing our business in tough economic outlooks. We are not relying on the economy to improve.”
Sage, which has been the subject of much takeover speculation this year, has been running a share buy-back programme since October.
Yesterday, the business announced a final dividend of 6.67p per share, down from 7.07p last year, but giving a total dividend for the year of 10.15p per share (2011: 9.75p per share), an increase of 4%.
The group, which was set up in 1981 and floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989, has more than six million customers and 13,600 staff in 24 countries.