Derek Pain: I'm betting on Booker to carry on beating the gloom
No Pain, No Gain
Saturday 09 April 2011
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.
Debt in Britain: Numbers seeking help on how to cope with mounting bills goes up by more than half in three years
General election 2015: David Cameron's promise brings uncertainty to investors
Have a happy new financial year
Simon Read: 'It went below the radar but you could be eligible for a tax break on your savings'
Women to lose benefits from contracted-out pension scheme
- 1 Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
- 2 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Katie Hopkins reported to the police for race hatred by Labour MP Simon Danczuk after tweet about Pakistani men
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...
£18000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Telesales Executive is requir...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...
£50,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you a professionally qualified commercial ...
Day In a Page
This four-bedroom detached home comes with grounds that span to approximately 2.5 acres, as well as two large patio areas and a double garage.
This four-bedroom cottage is a Grade II-listed town house, well-located for the thriving market town of Nailsworth.
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
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 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
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
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