THE passport and banknote firm De La Rue – which has its head office in Hampshire – has seen more than a fifth wiped off its stock market value after warning there was a risk it could collapse if recovery efforts fail.

The firm sparked another plunge in shares – down as much as 24 per cent – after it referred in half-year results to a "material uncertainty that casts significant doubt on the group's ability to continue as a going concern".

While it said this was only likely in a worst case scenario, one expert said De La Rue was now left "teetering on the brink".

The international company has its head office and design centre in Basingstoke.

The drop in its share price means De La Rue owes more in net debts than its stock market value.

De La Rue manufactures about a third of the world's banknotes and employs more than 2,500 people.

It has suffered a torrid past couple of years, having suffered heavily from losing out on the contract to print British passports to a French company.

The group has warned over profits twice in recent months and its half-year results laid bare the extent of its woes.

De La Rue posted a £12.1million pre-tax loss for the six months to September 28 against profits of £7.1m a year earlier.

Underlying operating profits crashed 87.1 per cent to £2.2m over the first half.

New chief executive Clive Vacher said he was taking "urgent actions" under a turnaround plan to revive its fortunes. He took over from Martin Sutherland, who quit in May after a previous profit warning.

The firm is also halting shareholder dividend payments and ramping up cost-cutting.

But Neil Wilson, chief market analyst at, said there may be more pain to come for investors.

He said: "De La Rue is teetering on the brink.

"Far from 'drawing a line' under the previous performance before the arrival of Mr Vacher and (chairman) Mr Loosemore, the profits warning in October - the second this year - was only the meat in the rather unsavoury sandwich."