Trace Computers Plc is continuing to show a a steady increase in profit but it said profits were still below its expectations and potential. Trace spans both software and recruitment and saw full year profit up 21% at ú139,000 on turnover up 5.6% at ú19.7m. The company said it was beginning to see healthy returns on the considerable investments made in TWINS2000 – its insurance system, which it claims is the undisputed leader in the field and is the mainstay of the Trace Isys insurance systems business. Trace was, however, less effusive about Trace-MIS, formed earlier this year from the merged operations of Gordon & Gotch and Proteus and the bespoke software division of Trace Computer Holdings. It had only a moderately successful year with steady demand for all products and services. The document imaging and workflow products were singled at as the highest growth markets for this division next year. Trace Financial, which has faced a difficult couple of years, is now reported to be on the up. Trace hopes that Trafic, the software it has developed for the Stock Exchange’s Crest replacement system for Taurus, which is now being developed by the Bank of England, will breathe new life into this sector. Trace is working with Sun Microsystems Inc and Informix Corp to develop the system and will sell it to financial institutions and merchant banks. Trace Solutions also managed a return to profit despite what the company termed difficult trading conditions in the property sector.
The supply company, Trace Workflow saw steady growth improvement and managed to maintain both margins and volume in the face of fierce competition. Trace USA Inc, the smaller US business, was also reported to have returned a good profit from its loss-adjusting business. The company attributed an upturn in both the recruitment and contract business as instrumental in reviving its Prospects recruitment and contract division, which it said had had an excellent year. As with the previous five years, research and development remained broadly similar at ú1.6m. The shares rose 1p on the figures. The board recommends a final dividend of 1.55p against 1.50p last year. Chairman Richard Carefull will step down on January 1, staying as a non-executive director. He will be succeeded by Colin Clarke, currently joint managing director.