Derek Pain: I'm betting on Booker to carry on beating the gloom

No Pain, No Gain

The retail community may be feeling the pinch but Booker, the cash-and-carry chain, appears to be surviving in some style. Sales in the year just ended totalled £3.6bn, a 6.2 per cent advance, with the like-for-like figure 5.1 per cent higher. And the cash pile has grown significantly, from £7m to £27m.

Not surprisingly the stock market is wondering whether the reborn group can maintain its heady progress. Many of its customers – mainly convenience shops, pubs and restaurants – must be feeling the impact of the cold financial winds ripping through most sections of the nation. But Booker continues to capture new shoppers, is widening its appeal and has yet to reap the full benefits of last year's two acquisitions; a hotel food supplier and a drinks wholesaler.

Significantly, in the final 12 weeks of its year, total sales rose 6.4 per cent. I would be astonished if the group manages to completely ignore the gloomy economic climate but, because of its trading pattern, I feel it is in a better position to continue to prosper than many others. Stockbroker Investec expects the year's profits, due next month, to hit £66.7m against £56m last time. This year's estimate is £72.4m.

Booker was recruited to the No Pain, No Gain portfolio at 24.5p in January 2009. As I write the shares are 61p, hovering around their highest since the group returned to the stock market four years ago when it reversed into a wholesaling business called Blueheath. Capitalisation is about £934m. My present intention is to hang on to the shares, despite the deteriorating retail outlook. It would require a significant setback to force a change of mind.

Lighthouse, a much smaller company, is another constituent to report on its trading performance. As seems customary these days the accountancy group produces a selection of profit figures with underlying profits coming out at £1.3m against £1.1m and "true" pre-tax profits emerging at £129,000, up from £93,000.

The group faces challenges but at 9p the shares look undervalued. Capitalisation is around £3.9m; yet there is £11m (up from £9m) resting in its bank account. True, more than half of this hoard has to be held for regulatory purposes but even so it looks to be exceedingly well endowed. It is spraying a little of its cash pile among shareholders, increasing the dividend by 20 per cent to 0.36p a share. The portfolio paid 17.5p in August 2006. Subsequently the price roared ahead to 35p but it has been downhill since and although I regard the shares as cheap I am beginning to wonder whether, in view of the stock market's continued indifference, the portfolio should accept its loss and bail out.

Rivington Street Holdings, a more recent constituent, continues its hectic expansion programme. Last year it moved to embrace gold and silver operations. Hameldon Resources became Athol Gold, and Directex Realisations was reborn as Woodbourne Square, a silver group. Now a soft commodities satellite, Agneash, is due; it is at the moment a Plus-traded investment shell called High Road Capital that, after a cash raising, has £900,000 in the bank.

Tom Winnifrith, who is chief executive of Rivington, has already assumed investment roles at Athol and Woodbourne and will take on a similar position at Agneash. The latest deal follows the pattern of the two earlier ones with Rivington taking a significant stake and its fees related solely to performance.

Rivington, which moved its residence to the Isle of Man last year, seems keen to emphasise the Manx connection – its office is on Athol Street and Mr Winnifrith's home is at Woodbourne Square, both in Douglas, and Agneash is a nearby village.

The growing Rivington corporate side has recently arranged a £750,000 loan note placing for a client, Viridas, a brave little business growing bio energy crops in Brazil. At one time it was called Caldwell and sold men's underwear and such items as canopies. Under the direction of chairman Stanley Wootliff, a City veteran, it switched into biofuels four years ago.

Now, it looks as if Viridas will change its spots again. New directors are promised and perhaps less exotic natural resources will be encompassed. The shares (Rivington does not have an interest) are around 1.5p, capitalising the company at just £360,000.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
Life and Style
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

    £50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

    SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

    £450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

    Project Manager - Pensions

    £32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

    £200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone