More than one in four computer hardware companies are at high risk of failure, according to a report from Plimsoll Publishing.
Companies such as Cabletron Systems, Baan, Westcoast, Datrontech, Hawke Computer Supplies and Intergraph Computer Systems are in a dangerous position, having posted below-average sales growth and above-average total debt as percentage sales in their latest financial year, the report said.
Plimsoll said the research was conducted to unearth why companies fail, and to determine the early warning signs visible in company accounts.
The survey audited 2,258 UK-based companies and considered their financial performance over the past four years. Each company was categorised in one of five ratings: strong, good, mediocre, caution and danger.
The report said not every company given a caution or danger rating is certain to fail. From last year, 216 companies climbed out of the lower ratings, but in almost every case, new management or a serious restructuring was needed.
Intergraph was slow to market nine months ago, and let product delivery time slip by three months. Martin Vessey, head of Intergraph Computer Systems UK, said confidence in the company was lacking. "We threw our hands up, we just didn't focus properly and were trying to be everything to everybody. We've realigned and now focus only on key markets."
Firms that returned above-average sales growth and below-average total debt included Acuma Solutions, Evesham Micros, Dabs Direct, Compel and Ilion. The 'chancers' included Sphinx CST, Time Computers, Triangle and Ultima Business Systems.
Companies deemed 'sleepers' included Action Computer Supplies, Micro Warehouse and Psion UK, while companies deemed to be 'aggressive' included Epicor Software, the Morse Group and the Triad Group.
New stars identified by the Plimsoll report included CSF Solutions, ICM Computer Group, Science Systems and Storage Technology Holding.
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