Belfast Telegraph

Triumph for Northern Ireland businesses as they leap up stock exchange

By david elliott

The share prices of the three Northern Ireland companies listed on the London Stock Exchange soared in 2013.

First Derivatives, UTV Media and Andor Technology all out-performed the FTSE 100 index in the past 12 months, climbing 143%, 82% and 36% respectively.

Newry-based software and consulting company First Derivatives posted the most impressive performance, as its shares jumped around two-and-a-half times to end the year at 1,270p each.

Fittingly for a listed company, its products are targeted at the capital markets industry and has enjoyed a surge in revenue over the last year.

As well as growing its business in the likes of Australia, its big data division has grown after managing to secure a major contract with NYSE.

And despite pre-tax profit slipping as a result of investment in the company, investors have reacted warmly to the performance over the last few months, one which looks set to continue.

"We have won a number of high-profile contracts which we will deliver through the remainder of this year and have a healthy pipeline of prospects," chairman Seamus Keating said in the firm's interim report, released in November.

UTV – which includes the media group's wider interests, such as local and national radio and new media, as well as the Northern Ireland television channel – also posted an impressive performance, with shares ending 2013 at 213p each, up around 82%.

A difficult start to the trading year for the media group was negated by revenue growth in the second half of the year.

The share price was further helped by the company's plan to launch a new television channel in the Republic, and confidence the Fifa World Cup in 2014 will prove profitable.

Belfast-based scientific camera maker Andor Technology started 2013 as a listed company and is now in the process of being taken over.

It started the year at 388p-a-share and, although dropping by around £1 over the summer, managed to attract a 525p offer from Oxford Instruments in December.

The deal marked the end of a tense period of negotiations, initiated by a £140m offer, which was turned down by the Belfast company's board after being branded 'disappointing'.

Belfast Telegraph