* Says upturn in equity markets could help its customers
* Sees 2013 performance broadly flat on 2012
* Shares up 4.1 pct
By Paul Sandle
LONDON, Feb 11 Software group Fidessa
said the strongest sentiment in equity markets in five years
could signal a return to more stability among its
financial-sector customers, after lower trading volumes in 2012
Buyers of Fidessa's equity-trading software, particularly
small and mid-sized brokerages, have struggled during the
financial crisis with a fall in trading volumes forcing some out
of business and others to merge.
Fidessa Chief Executive Chris Aspinwall said this year had
got off to a good start, after the global value of equity
trading fell by around 20 percent in 2012 on top of the already
depressed levels of the previous year.
"We've seen some good inflows coming back into the equity
markets," he said on Monday.
"We have got a better market sentiment coming into this year
than we've had for probably the last five years."
He said that while it was too early to know whether this was
a turning point, a floor would eventually be reached in the
decline of equity markets which would allow Fidessa's customers
to gradually return to a more stable state.
The group said it would continue to invest in new platforms,
like derivatives, and in regional expansion. As a result,
performance in 2013 would be similar to last year.
The company said it would once again pay a special dividend
of 45 pence a share, in line with a payout in 2011, while it
increased its annual dividend by 1 percent to 37 pence.
Shares in the group were up 4.1 percent at 1,589 pence by
1023 GMT, the second-largest mid-cap gainer.
Jefferies analyst Milan Radia said growth should return as
downward pressure on prices and churn, or customers dropping the
service, should reduce in the next two years. Churn was around 7
percent in 2012, he said.
"As equity market conditions improve, we believe pricing
pressure will abate, while churn is expected to reduce to nearer
5 percent points in 2013 (assuming no further material bank
closures," he said.
Fidessa reported a 1 percent dip in adjusted pretax profit
to 42.7 million pounds ($68 million) on broadly flat revenue of
278.6 million pounds for the year to end-December. The results
were broadly in line with market expectations.