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Spend & Save

Derek Pain: While Avation is flying high, Alkane is digging deep

Avation, the aircraft leaser, may be sitting on hidden assets worth a cool 115p a share. If the back-up arithmetic and projections are correct, then the rest of the group is theoretically valued by the stock market at just 3p a pop.

As I write the shares are around 118p. They have lost altitude this year, falling from above 150p after interim profits came in a little below some expectations.

The hidden value that could be lurking in the balance sheet relates to the quick fire sales of two ATR 72 aeroplanes just after Avation exercised delivery options. One such disposal took place in December; the second occurred last week.

It has been suggested that the group obtains a profit of around $1m (some £600,000) on each aircraft when it adopts such action. With its array of aircraft options it is possible to calculate that the group is sitting on potential assets worth 115p a share.

Of course the group specialises in leasing, not selling. It has an aircraft fleet under long-term contracts. Still, it is always possible other options will be quickly turned into cash, thereby crystallising at least some of the hidden value.

Chairman and near 21 per cent shareholder Jeff Chatfield indicates that more sales could be on the way. He says: "We own an extensive option pipeline of new ATR 72 aircraft, with numerous delivery positions, and assess the risk in geography of each opportunity on a portfolio basis and take action accordingly." When conditions are suitable, he adds, the group is "willing to trade new and second hand aircraft as a matter of policy".

Avation is expected to fly in with profits of around $18m in the year to June with, perhaps, $22.5m in the following year. The shares were recruited to the No Pain, No Gain portfolio at 83.5p. I agree with the T1ps.com share tipping website that they are worth buying.

Another portfolio constituent in contention for a mention is Alkane Energy, the power generator operating a string of sites turning methane gas into electricity. It has announced that last year's revenue increased 40 per cent to £20.6m and pre-tax profits emerged at £2.7m, up from £2.3m and the dividend is doubled to 0.2p a share.

I was surprised, when it produced a results trailer in January, that no mention appeared of its possible shale gas interests. After all, shale is a hot topic for businessmen and politicians who believe it could revolutionise the nation's energy supply as well as protesters who think any production will devastate the surrounding country side. It is pleasing to see that the latest figures are accompanied by some details of the group's shale interests.

Chief executive Neil O'Brien reports that 13 of the group's extensive range of licences have been assessed for possible shale returns. Initial estimates indicate there is potential and the group is now considering further investigations. It seems it is undecided how to proceed, mentioning that it could unload some sites or embark on farm-outs of others. Clearly Alkane is well stocked with possible shale opportunities and may want to develop some off its own bat.

The shares have the distinction of being the portfolio's newest member. They were recruited last summer at 40.75p and have since topped 50p. They are now 41p, possibly reflecting Henderson Global Investors decision to cut its stake from 19 per cent to just under 17 per cent.

At 41p the group is capitalised at £50.7m. I hope the shares will generate considerable excitement before long.