Derek Pain: A sudden burst of activity but sadly little effect

No Pain, No Gain

The no pain, no gain portfolio enjoyed a round of exceptional activity during my enforced absence, with half the constituents creating some form of stock market interest. It was similar to the old story about buses – you endure a long wait and then a convoy arrives.

Unfortunately, my little collection of shares has not benefited as much as I would have expected from the various displays. The two that made profit statements failed to inspire investors, and trading updates produced negligible influences. With the exception of SnackTime, the vending group, the rest of the outpourings left few positive impressions.

SnackTime, the dog of the portfolio, really surged ahead – at one point more than doubling. Such a performance would have been highly satisfactory if the shares had not been recruited at 119p and once approached 200p. The price, as I write, is 16p, capitalising the company at a mere £2.7m against more than £20m at one time..

The vending machine group, which arrived on the stock market in 2007 at 144p a share, has already warned that the next set of profits will fall "significantly short" of earlier expectations.

It seems to me that the group, the third largest vending machine operator in the country, attempted to expand too quickly. It has also been dealt savage blows by the recession. Not surprisingly, Jeremy Hamer, the recently installed chairman, has instituted a rescue package. The much-needed extra cash is being raised in two parts. New banking facilities, which seem quite reasonably valued in the circumstances, have been agreed with the Co-operative Bank.

The rest of the inflow will come from an issue of new loan notes. Many of the £1m five-year notes have been provisionally taken up. Shareholders are being asked to subscribe on the basis of one £1 loan note for every 16.35 shares. Half the notes will be convertible at 10p a share, with the rest earning interest.

The investment group Elderstreet, a backer of SnackTime, is deeply involved in the cash raising but it seems that some shareholders have already turned their backs on the proposal. The portfolio cannot, of course, subscribe. Under its rules of engagement each investment is restricted to the initial £5,000 outlay.

The two profit figures came from the tenpin bowler Essenden and the support services group Mears. Essenden's recovery continues, with adjusted profits of £1.5m, although there was actually a £71,000 "true" loss. Mears produced profits of £31.7m, a shade higher than the previous year. Bedding in its loss-making rival Morrison Facilities Services, following last year's takeover, is costing money and could affect the current year's figures.

The cash and carry group Booker, with provisional Whitehall approved to buy rival Makro, and the Spirit pub chain suffered from trading statements. Although Booker kept up its exciting sales push, the shares slipped back, and Spirit's shares look as flat as yesterday's pint after it reported disappointing quarterly figures. Still, it says it is on track to meet the full year's estimates.

Northern Petroleum continues to disappoint. The group could be near to selling its Dutch oil and gas operations, where a revision has chopped 30 per cent off expected output, and has moved into Canada, acquiring some promising leases. Exploratory trans-Atlantic drilling could commence soon.

With the Dutch and British businesses probably worth about £40m and its modest stake in what appears to be a rich oilfield off South America valued at some £60m, the group's shares are clearly undervalued.

At 42.5p a share Northern is capitalised at £40.5m, so Canada, Italy and some other unidentified interests are accorded negative values by the market. Stockbroker estimates suggest the shares should be above 100p. I am aware of valuations of 123p and 110p. But the market refuses to listen.

Findel, the home shopping and educational supplies group, rounds off this bulletin. It indicates that profits will meet expectations. The group has sold its healthcare division for £24m and decided that its shares, around 5.4p, need more ballast, say 100p, and introduced a consolidation, with 20 shares becoming one.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Suggested Topics
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

    Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

    £22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

    SThree: HR Benefits Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

    £30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003