Tuesday, 25 August 2009

ANT expresses confidence in the future despite continued losses

(By Philip Carnelley, 25 Aug 09, 09.45) Encouraging interim sales numbers today from ANT, one of the smallest IT companies on AIM. It provides software and services for digital TV delivery, and has blue-chip clients including Cisco, Chungwa Telecom, France Telecom, Philips and Samsung. Revenues for the first half were up 26% to £2m, though operating losses remained at around £1m, with cash outflow of £0.6m, and we note that it hasn’t made a profit for at least four years. Reasons for the company’s optimism are its first sale to the satellite TV sector, a deal with Arab Media Corporation, together with several new contracts with major set-top box manufacturers.

A wider significance can be drawn from this: ANT represents the tip of a substantial iceberg. The UK has literally hundreds of small software companies – or services companies who develop interesting software as part of their business proposition – but few are known outside their specialist niche. ANT is more visible because it’s AIM-listed. Quite a number of them, like ANT, are located in and around Cambridge. Many of them are doing well despite the general economy. As we have commented (Entry-level IT jobs), Britain needs tech companies to build/maintain our IP and skills base: we need them to do well and expand. We hope ANT can build on its results and fulfil its future promise. We will be writing more about the structure of the British software industry in our research over the coming months.

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