Derek Pain: Holt's been both a winner and a loser
No Pain, No Gain
Saturday 25 August 2012
Bob Holt, the 57-year-old chairman of Mears, has managed to achieve the contrasting feats of both making as well as losing money for the no pain, no gain portfolio.
Shares of the support services group were first enlisted in its early days. They were recruited at 23p and sold at 84p. A nice little earner as TV's Arthur Daley might have said. Four years ago the shares were repurchased at 272p.
As I write they are just above that level but I still have high hopes they could get up a new head of steam. After all, last week's interim figures demonstrated that Mears' social housing and home-care interests are comfortably surviving the recession. Pre-tax profits edged ahead to £11.1m and the interim dividend lifted 7 per cent to 2.3p a share.
There is no doubt that Mears has, overall, been a highly profitable investment. It could have been even more rewarding. For after I sold the shares – the stock market was then looking a bit dodgy and I was off on an extended holiday – the price rolled on to 385p. But it is pointless back jobbing. If I totted up the amount of cash lost because of unfortunate decisions I suspect I would be suicidal.
Despite the current share price being so far from its peak, there is no doubt that Mears represents a Holt success story. When the company came to the stock market in 1996 it was valued at only 10p a share and enjoyed a yearly turnover of £12m. In its last, full-year revenue was £589m.
Mr Holt, a former chief executive of Tottenham Hotspur football club, has, it must be admitted, cashed in on Mears' success. He had a significant stake when the group floated. Now his interest is modest. Earlier this year he sold two million shares (which included 1.5 million of option stock) at 250p a pop.
However, it is in his role as chairman of Green Compliance, formerly Wyatt, that Mr Holt has embarrassed the portfolio.
I descended on the-then online recruiter, nine years ago at 27.5p. After a succession of deals, the group failed to make it and three years ago indulged in two cash-raising exercises. The first call, as Wyatt became Green CO2, took it into home improvement kits; then, with the company subsequently assuming the name Green Compliance, it raised £10m with Mr Holt putting up £1m.
The portfolio eventually escaped with just £200 remaining of its initial £5,000 investment. Since it departed, Green's shares have continued to experience a rough ride. They are now just 10.5p, capitalising the business at £3.2m.
According to the five-year chart on the ADVFN website, Green has, allowing for capital changes, fallen from more than 1,000p.
Mr Holt must have lost heavily. He is quite a substantial shareholder. But he remains upbeat. Although the company made an operating profit of nearly £2m in its last year the pre-tax result was a £3.7m loss.
He believes Green, which has grown through a string of acquisitions, has emerged as "a credible new player" in the business of fire, pest and water compliance.
Mr Holt adds: "We have a focused business operating in profitable market sectors and a management team that is committed to driving shareholder value..."
Green relies partly on discretionary spending which is under pressure in these fraught days. Mears does not; its earnings are more sheltered. Besides steadily increasing its social-housing network, the group seems to be benefiting from the failure of some of its rivals to perform adequately. It has won two London deals following the sudden termination of contracts, and managing director David Miles seems to expect more such opportunities to appear.
Mr Holt is a charity walker. His Footprint Foundation has raised around £500,000 for vulnerable young and old. Last weekend he was in South Africa where he is involved in an orphanage. But he still finds time to head both Green and Mears as well as another quoted company, Inspired Energy.
I have pondered recruiting Inspired but felt that although Mr Holt is a winner and loser I should stick with the net £8,460 he has so far contributed to portfolio funds. And, who knows? I might score again with Mears.
Compare with the Independent: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now
Threat of 'catastrophic cascade of collisions' must be averted, warn scientists
- 1 Australian man Rod Sommerville reacts to bite from deadly snake by reaching for cold beer
- 2 North Korea elections: Kim Jong-un wins 100% of the vote
- 3 David Cameron resorts to paying for Facebook fans because not enough people like him
- 4 Steve Irwin’s final words: Cameraman present at death opens up about deadly stingray attack for the first time
- 5 Sharknado 2: Former WWE wrestler Kurt Angle to fight second wave of flying sharks
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
Vince Cable: Teachers 'know absolutely nothing' about the world of work
Ukraine crisis: Russia pledges to 'retaliate against sanctions' as Ukrainian president says Crimea vote will not be recognised
The quiet diplomat: Catherine Ashton - recognised and admired in all the world’s troubled countries, yet ridiculed at home
iJobs Money & Business
£32000 - £36000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: * TAX * ...
£55000 - £70000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: In-House Corporat...
£80000 - £100000 per annum + benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: In-House Opportu...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Mixed Ta...
Day In a Page
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize
A three-bedroom red-brick cottage with outbuildings and pretty gardens, £200,000
This three-bedroom flat within a former textile factory spans the corner of the fourth floor and has a balcony
A charming four-bedroom Oxfordshire cottage with oak floors and chunky-beamed ceilings, £465,000
A beautiful one-bed flat in a sought-after portered block, with access to Norland Square communal gardens
A one-bedroom flat within a Sixties school conversion with high-spec design and open-plan kitchen, close to Lambeth North Tube, £435,000
A 17th century four-bedroom house, with open fireplaces, cellar and pool, £600,000
A three-bedroom, coach house with luxury open-plan living space and contemporary breakfast bar
A newly refurbished one-bedroom flat in the heart of Mayfair, close to Grosvenor Square
A charming four-bedroom house overlooking Burleigh Square Park, close to Thorpe Bay
A three-bedroom farmhouse with a large inglenook fireplace and exposed beams
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station
A Grade II-listed home with six bedrooms, secluded landscaped gardens and views across Hadley Green
A Grade II-listed mansion with two apartments and a cottage, near Gretna Green
A three-bedroom Grade II-listed mews house with vaulted ceilings and roof garden
A spacious Grade II-listed family home with annexe and equestrian facilities among four acres of land in Itchingfield
A four-bedroom home with exposed brick walls and open fires in the picturesque village of Northill
A Grade II-listed property with five bedrooms and unique tower, overlooking Hastings Old Town