Sage, ARM, Autonomy results all good. Let’s have more like this, please

Thus Sage was finally able to tell the City it has returned to sales growth in the six months to September and maintained the improved performance in the final three months of 2010, with revenues climbing 3% in the second half of the year, compared with a decline of 2% in the first half and that despite revenues for the year being flat at £1.4bn, the company was still able to post a nice 14% rise in underlying profits, to £355.7m.

Meanwhile our one undoubted hardware/chip star, ARM, which this week said it’s enjoyed a 72% increase in full-year profits, to £167.4m in 2010 from £96.8m in 2009, with revenues increased to £407m in 2010 from £305m in 2009.

But most eyes will be quite rightly, we think, on the one undoubted non-application, heavy duty software company success we have in the marketplace: Autonomy, ARM’s neighbour, of course.

The Cambridge outfit has been able to report sales up 18% year on year, to $870m, with pre-tax profits of $379m and operating margin of a very healthy 43%, all numbers that met or exceeded financial analyst estimates.

The firm got there through things like 94 seven figure ($1m-plus) deals, 42% than in its 2009 full year, with customer names like Bank of America, BNP Paribas, BP, Cigna, Philip Morris International and Play.com all cutting cheques for its search software.

Another good sign for a stable company is repeat business; in 2009 Lynch’s mob was able to get the majority, 57%, of all its deals from existing customers it is adding deal-value with and extending relationships with.

It’s also able to say it has a growing OEM business, again, a classic sign of positive direction, via partners like Cisco, Xerox and Nuance and it’s also continuing to invest in its own future, with R&D up 16%.

Talking of the future, Autonomy says in its fourth quarter it saw its cloud activities go up 12% year on year and in the results statement Group CEO Mike Lynch says it’s now handling over 17 petabytes of "critical customer information" this way.

The company has applications out there in fields as diverse as supporting customer interaction, legal (it says its software is helping all the lawyers working out the BP oil spill case), regulatory and, as a result of new smart phone technology, mobile.

"Unlike others in the sector, Autonomy’s business thrived during the downturn resulting in [our] reporting growth on growth unlike others who are now seeing growth as a return to normal levels. In light of these tougher comparative periods due to our strong growth in 2009, and the transition to longer-term value revenue models, we continue to perform well," he added.

Such strong results from these three bellwether public UK tech firms is to be applauded. We hate to end on a negative, but we’d also like, of course, to be writing this post about 30 such British but truly global, credible firms – not a tenth of that number.

Image: Richard Cawood, Flickr, CC licence.

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