Royalblue buckles down as market conditions worsen

Royalblue buckles down as market conditions worsen

UK-based trading systems outfit royalblue Group has turned in a strong first half, with operating profit up 22% and turnover from continuing operations rising by 16% compared to a year ago. The vendor is forecasting slower growth for the next six months, however, as market conditions fail to improve.

Operating profits for the group are up to £3.9 million for the six months to end-June 2002, compared with £3.2 million in the equivalent period. Turnover from continuing operations rose to £29.3 million, from £25.2 million, excluding revenues from royalblue technologies, divested last July.

Looking ahead, CEO Chris Apsinwall comments: "We expect that the current difficulties in the financial markets will continue and could worsen further before starting to improve. It is clear that we cannot be immune from the effects of current market conditions and we expect that this will mean a period of slower growth."

The firm says it continues to see strong demand from big-ticket customers for the fidessa product, which provides connectivity links to exchanges, ECNs and the buy-side institutions; and increasing interest in fidessaNet, the ASP platform which renders the technology accessible to smaller investment banks and fund managers. As a result of recent sales the UK fidessaNet operation has achieved break-even six months earlier than anticipated, while the US remains on track to achieve break-even by the end of 2003.

The breakdown of the revenues is that consultancy represented 60% (2001: 68%), fidessa licence rental was 19% (2001: 10%), maintenance was 10% (2001: 11%) and fidessaNet service rental was 6% (2001: 3%). In total, recurring revenues were £10.3 million, up 72% on the same period last year. Recurring revenues from rental fees now constitute 35% of total turnover, up from 26% over the same period in 2001.

New product initiatives that are currently being developed and targeted into Europe include:
• A new version of the Roma (remote order management) workstation which is designed to enable remote offices to access central order management functionality.
• A new lightweight fidessaNet workstation targeted at smaller customers (typically below 10 traders) which provides basic market data as well as the ability to route and execute order flow.
• New product to support the alignment of the cash and portfolio businesses which will cover portfolio and basket trading.
• A new version of CTAC (V2.3), the middle office product, which has been enhanced to provide a number of new features including bulk confirmations, Web-based confirmations and matching multiple client trades to single broker trades.

In North America, the company is concentrating on repackaging existing products to target specific functionality. This includes the packaging of SuperMontage and price-point consolidated order book software into a smaller workstation product designed to offer an easy entry point into fidessa and fidessaNet for institutions who have other products or their own systems. The company says it is also investigating opportunities to leverage its connectivity to the New York Stock Exchange by providing connections for buy-side institutions to route order flow through to the Nyse floor.

In the more depressed Asian markets, activity is centred on providing support for cross border order flows.

The company says is has also commenced the marketing of the new V5 product set, which offers improvements in database technology and a 64-bit architecture. The first phase of this is completing development with rollout scheduled to begin from summer 2002. The V5 product consists of a new version of the core trading platform and new versions of each of the trading applications. Maximum order and execution throughput is increased by more than 10 times on the new platform, says the vendor. The platform also provides the technology and business infrastructure for new applications including portfolio/basket and cross regional transaction management.

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