Norsk Data A/S shares crashed nearly 40% to $9 – about 495 pence – after $8.75 yesterday after giving a warning from the Norwegian minimaker that the 1987 results, due early next month, will show net profits approximately half last year’s figure equivalent to $73m. The company made $25.9m pre-tax in the first half. City analysts were looking for $82.5m to $90m at the start of the year, but scaled back their forecasts after the company stated in October (CI No 792) that second-half pre-tax profits would fall $15m short of expectations. At the time of that announcement, Norsk Data said the problem was confined to the US and India, and that Europe was on target for 25% to 30% growth. The company now says that preliminary analysis of the full year figures indicates worldwide sales were only marginally ahead of 1986 after factoring out sales of the Wordplex Information Systems Plc acquisition, and that net profits probably reached only about half last year’s figure of $73m.
Norsk Data says that it had planned for a substantial increase and had taken on extra sales staff to cope with the expected demand. In addition to the problems in India and the US, Norsk Data has had to renegotiate its agreement with Matra Datasysteme in France, under which Matra was building its minis under licence, and has now taken control of its affairs in France, reducing its agreement with Matra to the status of a non exclusive one. It has also taken longer than it expected to get to grips with the problems at Wordplex. In all, rather a sorry end to 14 years’ successive growth of at least 25%.