Newcastle’s Sage ups first-half profit 47% to £203m

Sage Group plc, the Newcastle-based FTSE 100 global software business, said its revenue rose 6% to £1.152 billion for the six months to March 31, 2024, profit before tax soared 47% to £203 million, and interim dividend was up 6% to 6.95p.

Hoever, the company’s share price — which has recently been trading at all time highs — fell as much as 9% to about £10.92 amid reports that the firm suggested revenue growth for its fiscal 2024 would come in below expectations. The Newcastle firm has a stock market value of about £11 billion.

Sage provides nearly half of the UK’s smaller businesses with accounting, human resources and payroll software.

It employs more than 11,000 people around the world.

Sage said its underlying annualised recurring revenue (ARR) was up 11% to £2.253 billion, “reflecting growth across all regions balanced between new and existing customers.”

The Newcastle firm said that in North America, its underlying total revenue increased 13% to £520 million. Europe achieved underlying total revenue growth of 6% to £304 million. In the UK & Ireland, total revenue grew 7% to £249 million. In Africa and APAC, total revenue grew 12% to £79 million.

In its outlook, Sage said: “Looking ahead, we expect organic total revenue growth for full year FY24 to be broadly in line with the first half.

“We continue to expect operating margins to trend upwards in FY24 and beyond, as we focus on efficiently scaling the group.”

Sage Group plc CEO Steve Hare said: “Sage performed well in the first half of the year, delivering broad-based revenue growth and significant margin expansion.

“Demand for our solutions remains robust, with small and mid-sized businesses continuing to trust Sage to automate their accounting, HR and payroll workflows.

“We are resolutely focused on innovation, as both a source of near-term competitive advantage and a foundation for our long-term success.

“We continue to introduce new AI-powered products and services that deliver enhanced productivity and insights, driving value for both existing and new customers.

“As we look forward, despite the ongoing macroeconomic uncertainty, I am confident that Sage’s proven strategy, underpinned by continued investment, will enable us to deliver further efficient growth.”

Hare told the UK’s Press Association he has no plans to join the mini-exodus from the London stock market, but cautioned that high-growth firms may struggle to access the capital they need with a UK listing.

“We’re very proud of our roots in the UK and in Newcastle and very proud to be a UK tech success story,” Hare told PA.

“At the moment there’s no reason for us to consider switching because there’s no barrier to us growing.

“We can access the capital and already have a number of US shareholders.

“But we’re an established company and the focus is more on firms that are scaling up.

“What the UK needs is scale-up capital in the London market and people or funds that are prepared to invest in growth and take a bit more risk.”