Tech firms all around the world have occupied an increasingly dominant space. Facebook and Whatsapp are used by billions of people around the world. Google is also equally ubiquitous. Their listing on stock exchanges have their founders and early investors billionaires.

Nigerian tech firms on the other hand have largely struggled. Some such as Konga have had to merge with larger firms. Others such as Efritin and OLX have had to shut down.

Tech companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange have also performed poorly, with irregular dividend payments and poor price appreciation. Here is a look at tech firms listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and their performances in the last few years.

Year to date, no Nigerian tech firm has witnessed price appreciation or outperformed the NSE All-Share Index which is up 11.49% year to date.

Here are some select technology firms and a brief of their performance in Nigerian stock market.

Courteville Business Solutions Plc (formerly known as Courteville Investments)

The company became public in 2008 and was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) in April 2009. Its principal activities include automated business solutions such as the popular Autoreg and Egole online shopping mall.

 2016 results were poor for the firm, with Courtville recording a loss, and skipping dividend payments.

The company’s fortunes have however improved going by the results for the 9 months ended, September 2017. Revenue increased slightly from N945 million in 2016 to ₦1 billion in 2017. Gross profit also increased from ₦397 million in 2016, to N457 million in 2017. Profit before tax also grew massively from ₦31.4 million in 2016 to ₦62 million in 2017; though, its share price down by 24%year to date.2017.

Courtville has however made a series of missteps, bluntly put due to poor application of funds. First was an expansion to Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Jamaica which have added very little to its bottom line.

Courtville shares have remained at the ₦0. 50 point for the larger part of the last 3 years, with a slight rally whenever the company pays dividends. The newly introduced ₦0.01 floor has led to a decline in the company’s share price to ₦0.38 per share in Friday’s trading session.

Next is the company’s investment in a real estate project in partnership with Synergy Capital. This came on the heels of its spending N1 billion on a new head office building  in 2015

Chams Plc

Chams Plc (the company) was incorporated as a limited liability company on September10, 1985, and became a public company on September 4, 2008. The company was listed on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange on September 8, 2008. Principal activities of Chams Plc and its subsidiaries (the group) include identity management, payment collections, and transactional systems.

Results for the 9 months ended, September 2017 show that administrative expenses continue to be a stumbling block. While revenue and gross earnings increased, a spike in administrative expenses caused Chams (the group) to record a loss. Chams had a gross profit of ₦629 million and other operating income of ₦ 122 million. Administrative expenses of Nn906 million led to a loss before tax of ₦161 million.

Chams recorded a loss before tax of ₦1.4 billion for the 12 months ended, December 2016. In the prior year, it also recorded a loss before tax of ₦3.3 billion. 2017 could thus end up being the third consecutive year of losses for the firm.

In terms of share price, the stock has remained at the 50 kobo floor for the past few years, with the removal of the 50 kobo floor causing it to fall to 48 kobo. Year to date, the share price is down by 4%.

Chams was also badly affected by the cancellation of a contract it had with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). The company raised ₦9.2 billion comprising ₦8.4 billion from shareholders and ₦800 million from its internally generated funds. Halfway through the tenure of the concession, it was cancelled and the company was forced to write off its expenses.

Omatek Plc

Omatek commenced operations in 1988 as a limited liability company in Nigeria in 1988. It was converted into a public company in 2008 and its name was subsequently amended to reflect its current status as a public company. The company’s shares are quoted and traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

The group has interests in subsidiaries and associates involved in manufacturing, distribution, selling and servicing of computer equipment and also provides engineering services.

Omatek’s most recent results submitted to the NSE are for the year ended, 2013 show that the company had a turnover of ₦1 billion and total comprehensive income of ₦182 million.

The company’s woes were compounded by the death of its founder, Florence Seriki, last year.

The company’s share price has shown no appreciation year to date.

E-tranzact

E-tranzact was incorporated as a private limited liability company in 2003 and became a public limited liability company in 2009. The company is an electronic payment processor and also provides software development services.

While E-tranzact has fared much better compared to other firms in the ICT sector, the company could end up making a loss in 2017. Results for the 9 months ended, September 2017 show that the company made a loss before tax of ₦6 million, compared to a profit before tax of ₦254 million made during the comparative period in 2017.

This could lead to a third consecutive year of declining profits. Profit after tax for the firm fell from ₦704 million in the 12 months ended, December 2015 to ₦447 million in December 2016.

A Key driver behind the poor result was the spike in the cost of sales. Cost of sales moved from ₦1.8 billion in 2016 to ₦2.4 billion in 2017.

Another red flag in the result was the huge spike in receivables from ₦853 million in 2016 to ₦1.1 billion. Other debts, in particular, rose from N233 million to ₦433 million. Staff debts also rose from ₦43.1 million in 2016 to ₦211 million in 2017.

Share price is down by 5% year to date.

Computer Warehouse Group (CWG) Plc

Computer Warehouse Group was established on September 26, 1992, with an initial focus on hardware services. In 2005, CWG Plc was established to coordinate and monitor the activities of other subsidiaries which were into the provision of VSAT and software services respectively. CWG Plc went public in February 2013 and was listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange on the 15th of November 15, 2013.

CWG’s activities are currently divided into 5 divisions: cloud services, software services, managed services, IT infrastructure and training.

CWG has had a mixed performance since listing on the NSE. Turnover has declined from ₦20.3 billion in 2013 to ₦8.5 billion in 2016.  Profit before tax has fallen from ₦632 million in 2013 to ₦32 million in 2016. The company last paid a dividend of ₦0.02 for the 2014 financial year.

In terms of share price appreciation, CWG has also lagged. From a listing price of ₦5.48, the company’s share price has nose-dived to ₦2.54.It has shown no appreciation year to date.

Tripple Gee Plc

Tripple Gee Plc is one of Nigeria’s oldest IT companies, having been incorporated in 1980. The company was converted to a public limited liability company in 1991 and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Principal activities of the company include the production of security documents and financial instruments.

Closely held by its founding shareholders, Tripple Gee has had a continuous decline in both revenue and profit over the last 5 year years. Revenue slid from N1 billion in 2013 to N601 million in 2017. Profit before tax hit a high of N53 million in 2015 and dropped to N15 million in 2017.

Tripple Gee’s core market, which is the production of cheques, has taken a hit with the advent of online banking. Year to date, the share price is down by 13.21%.

NCR Plc

NCR commenced operations on 9th December 9, 1949, under the name National Cash Register Company (West Africa) Limited. It underwent a name change to NCR (Nigeria) Limited in 1974 and was listed on the NSE on the 30th of May 30, 1979.

NCR is a subsidiary of NCR Corporation (NY) which owns 61.76% of its share capital. The company’s core activities include the sales and service of several ICT solutions including ATMs machines, Interactive Teller Machines, and Point of Service (POS) machines.

NCR has had a solid record of profitability in the last 5 years. Revenue has grown from ₦6.4 billion in 2013 to ₦7.0 billion in 2016. From a loss before tax of ₦1.1 billion in 2013 and ₦66 million in 2014, profits have consistently grown from ₦214 million in 2014 to ₦326 million in 2016.

2017 has been a difficult year for the company, largely due to foreign exchange losses. This led to a loss before tax of ₦215 million for the 9 months ended September 2017, compared to the profit before tax of ₦615 million made in the corresponding period of 2016. Year to date, its share prices have shown no appreciation.

Observations

Companies in the tech space have largely struggled due to unstable government policies (as seen with Chams and to an extent System specs) and a tough macroeconomic environment. Exchange rate instability, for example, has led to CWG Plc declining jobs that require large foreign exchange inputs.

The government has also failed to patronize indigenous ICT firms, which would have led to the private sector to do same.

Tech firms also require a long gestation period before coming profitable. Listing on an exchange is primarily a means of exit for most investors. The stock market here remains quite shallow to raise the required capital they need for operations, seeing that they have no track record.

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