Linedata services recorded excellent results for the second half of 2004, benefiting from delays of license agreements into the second half and the growth strategy launched at the end of 2003. These initiatives enabled the Group to generate organic growth of 8.3% in the second half and 3.7% over the full year.
This new upsurge in growth was reflected in margins as expected, with the operating margin reaching 24% in the second half. The outstanding performance is linked to both the leverage effect of growth and the global cost-cutting measures implemented throughout the year. Linedata Services therefore met its target for an operating margin of over 15% for the year.
The Group also benefited from tax reductions which generated a net margin before goodwill of 10%.
Positive outlook for 2005: pick-up in organic growth and strong improvement in profitability
Asset Management: The Group is maintaining the momentum seen in the second half of 2004. In a market showing signs of long-lasting recovery, Linedata Services has unique advantages which allow it to gain market share through both effective sales teams and a renewed product range.
Savings & Insurance : Linedata Services should continue its positive organic growth due to the renewal of employee share ownership programs and European projects being developed by the Groupâs life insurance offering. Moreover, major efforts in R&D have been made to the employee savings scheme offering, ensuring the future growth of this activity.
Leasing & Credit Finance: The positive signs seen in late 2004 are likely to be confirmed. The Group is expecting positive growth to resume due to the extension of functions with existing clients and by attracting new medium sized clients, particularly in Eastern Europe, one of the fastest-growing markets.
Overall, Linedata Services intends to step up its development gradually, and is aiming for sales growth of over 5% in 2005. This will be the first step to achieving double-digit growth. This growth will have an immediate positive effect on margins, given the optimized cost structure in place since the second half of 2004. The Group therefore expects strong improvement in its operating margin in 2005, to 17%.
Active acquisition strategy
In addition to its potential for organic growth, Linedata Services intends to accelerate its development and implement an active acquisition strategy. The Group will use this strengthened financial structure and increasingly heightened international profile to consolidate its position as a major provider of financial IT solutions in a market which remains highly fragmented.
Linedata Services will publish its sales for the first quarter of 2005 on May 10th 2005 at the close of trading.