Datalex shares tank by nearly 60% as losses loom

Datalex shares tank by nearly 60% as losses loom

Datalex shares plunged by nearly 60% - more than halving its market value - on the back of the travel software company saying it expects to see a loss for 2018 after potentially misstating previous figures.

One analyst suggested the drop in market value - from €191m to €78m - could make Datalex an attractive takeover target.

The company provides e-commerce and retail software services to many of the world's leading airlines and travel firms and counts businessman Dermot Desmond as one of its prominent shareholders.

In August, Datalex reported a 5% year-on-year revenue rise - to $31.9m (€27.9m) - for the first half of 2018, with adjusted earnings up by 14% at $6.1m. In November, it expressed confidence in delivering double-digit growth in adjusted earnings for 2018, as a whole.

However, the company has now said earnings figures for the first half of last year "may have been misstated" and that it expects to show losses of between $1m and $4m for last year.

It blamed a shortfall in services revenue and "accelerated recognition of revenue" linked to a major contract win - understood to be with Lufthansa - where revenue recovery talks are ongoing and had not concluded before the end of the year.

Datalex - which also said it had net cash of $8.8m at the end of 2018 - said it has asked "a leading accountancy firm", believed to be PwC, to undertake an independent review of the accounting issue.

"We have already identified certain key areas that require improvement and are taking corrective action. The fundamentals of the business remain strong. We are confident this is a once-off and we will return to profitability in 2019," said chief executive Aidan Brogan.

Goodbody said it would be reviewing its forecasts and recommendation regarding Datalex in light of the update, while Davy said the statement "leaves many questions unanswered".

However, Merrion Private analyst Darren McKinley said the share correction and the drop in market value has made Datalex more attractive than it has been in nearly five years and could heighten takeover talk around the company.

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