As the company comes up to the line and prepares to close its books on its fiscal 1987 at the end of the month, Apricot Computers Plc has a clearer idea of the kind of out-turn it will be reporting, and the signs are that a strong surge in government business will keep pre-tax profits for the year just ending down to around UKP4m where analysts had been hoping for anything up to UKP7m. Government business is a definite plus, but the downside is that suppliers get screwed down to very slim margins, and Apricot has also had to keep dealers sweet by paying the appropriate ones commissions on the sales. Good news out of the company is that microcomputer sales – mainly the Xen-i AT-alike these days – are surging, and hit UKP5.2m in February, up from UKP4m in January and UKP3m in December. As for fiscal 1988, Apricot is satisfied that it can make UKP5.5m to UKP6m on its maintenance and financial software business, so that the microcomputers don’t have to chip in much for the company to be able to achieve a 75% improvement on the likely pre-tax figure for the year just ending. Apricot shares were up fourpence at 70 pence yesterday, still well up on their 12-month low of 43 pence.
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