Derek Pain: Essenden's excellent efforts over Christmas have bowled me over
Friday 24 January 2014
The no pain, no gain portfolio has experienced a near-crescendo of announcements with more than half of the constituents reporting in the past few weeks. Most statements related to trading but a couple involved new funds.
Pride of place must go to Essenden, the little tenpin bowling business recruited just over a year ago. The 30-strong, once-ailing chain produced the sort of sales increase many enterprises can only dream about. In the calendar year the advance was a fairly modest 0.6 per cent but in the 15 weeks to 12 January the uplift was a much more impressive 8.4 per cent. And the festive season enjoyed a celebratory finale as the six weeks to 12 January produced 8.5 per cent; with the two Christmas weeks, when most children were on school holidays, scoring a remarkable 11.1 per cent rise.
No wonder chief executive Nick Basing, the man behind the group's revival, was moved to declare that two consecutive years of progress provide "unequivocal evidence of a fully reinvigorated business". The stock market agreed, lifting the shares, at the time of writing, 20.5p to 55.5p. The group is hunting for acquisitions and the share upsurge should make any deal much easier to accomplish. The portfolio joined the indoor-bowling experience at 24p.
Booker, the cash and carry chain that is the undisputed star of the portfolio, suffered a modest share retreat following its latest trading update.
The figures were not at all poor, but after such a prolonged advance profit taking was bound to occur. The shares, around 168p a little while ago, are about 155p now. But as the portfolio arrived at 24.5p, I am not at all perplexed.
Over 16 weeks sales, including the Makro acquisition, were up by 19.1 per cent. Chief executive Charles Wilson, largely responsible for the group's progress, says absorbing Makro is "on track". Later this year Booker intends to distribute £60m cash to shareholders.
Mears, the support-services group embracing social housing and home care, rolled out an upbeat trading statement, ahead of results in March. Its two acquisitions, Morrison Facilities Services and ILS, continue to bed down well. Mears shares topped 480p but are now around 474p. The portfolio invested at 272p.
Spirit Pub Co extended the cheer. In a 20-week stretch its managed pub turnover rose 4.3 per cent but, perhaps more significantly, the group's leased pubs returned a positive performance with net income 1.3 per cent higher. The shares hover near their high at 85.5p. The portfolio paid 42p.
The most recent recruit, power-generator Alkan, ahead of figures also due in March, revealed output rose 15 per cent last year. The shares arrived at 40.75p in August; they are around the 49p mark.
But Animalcare, the veterinary-products group, failed to enhance the portfolio. Although it produced a first-half revenue increase of 5.9 per cent the shares are a few coppers below the buying level. Still, the group should benefit from the planned introduction of compulsory micro chipping. The shares are 167.5p, against a 171p outlay.
The two fund raisers were Findel, the home-shopping group, and aircraft leaser Avation.
Findel's largest business, the successful Express Gifts, has increased its securitisation facility from £105m to £130m.
And Avation has got extra cash with an Australian institution providing a new $9.5m ((£5.8m) stand-by facility. The loan will be secured on the group's fleet of five Fokker aircraft.
Findel was recruited at the equivalent of 142p, a week before Essenden; the shares are now nudging 300p.
Avation landed at 83.5p at the start of 2011 against 145p nowadays, just a shade below the peak.
Scottish Power hit with sales ban by regulator
Simon Read: You're guilty until proven innocent when HMRC sends in the tax credit detectives
There are 'dark corners' of the investment and pensions industry, says Pension Minister
Midweek Money: The end (of the tax year) is nigh: act now
Bank-beating exchange rates on your international payments
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 3 Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
- 4 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 5 Why you're almost certainly more like your father than your mother
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
iJobs Money & Business
£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established early...
£30 - 35k + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Executive Assist...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...
Day In a Page
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A deceptively spacious, beautifully presented Georgian home with 3000sq ft of living space and five reception rooms
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads