No Pain, No Gain: How showbiz and share can make a good mix

I love a good whodunit. And, to my mind, there is no better exponent of this fascinating art than Agatha Christie and her arch detective, Miss Marple. So imagine my delight at the prospect of a new Miss Marple TV series, with the accomplished actress Geraldine McEwan following in the proud footsteps of Joan Hickman as the rather ancient, prim and proper detective.

Chorion, an AIM-traded company, is behind this latest Christie initiative. It is one of those relatively recent creations - embracing what is described as intellectual property or, to be more explicit, the ownership and exploitation of a host of literary names. Besides Agatha Christie it takes in Georges Simenon (Inspector Maigret) and Nicolas Freeling (Van de Valk). It is also in talks to acquire the rights to another well-known crime writer. But murder mysteries are only part of the Chorion library. It has a burgeoning child's sector with Noddy and the Mr Men collection as star attractions.

I have followed Chorion for some time, and I regard it as a candidate for the No Pain, No Gain portfolio. Unfortunately, from my standpoint, its shares have been strong lately, following impressive interim figures. My current inclination is to hang on, hoping they drift lower once the swell created by the results dies down.

At the half-way stage pre-profits were £1.1m, up from £520,000. For the year, before goodwill amortisation, around £5.4m is likely, with maybe £8m or so in sight for next year. Like so many relatively small groups Chorion, capitalised at £40m, is not rewarding its shareholders with dividend payments. And, despite encouraging prospects, the share performance means long-term shareholders are out of pocket.

It can trace its lineage back to the Burford property group, which spawned the quoted Trocadero company, running a leisure centre in London's Piccadilly. The famous old Troc was not a profitable investment and Chorion, owner of some author rights and a string of sophisticated bars under the Tiger Tiger banner, emerged.

In May 2002 the bars were hived off as a separately quoted company, Urbium. It has, like the residue intellectual property side, prospered since the split - events that have not been fully reflected in the share prices.

I was, at one time, pondering slipping Urbium into the portfolio. There is no doubt that as bar chains go, it is exceptionally well run. It has smartly avoided the belly flops that have afflicted SFI and Regent Inns, and has achieved impressive progress. But Urbium is operating in one of the most accident-prone areas of the leisure industry and its strong exposure to London's West End could create added problems. So my interest in the bars chain evaporated. But my researches had, not surprisingly, spread over to Chorion - and I liked what I found.

I decided to wait until the interim results appeared. In retrospect, I should have moved in ahead of the figures. Yet even now, at 230p, the shares are not expensive. Readers may recall I criticised Chorion for the way it handled a £16.5m cash raising exercise earlier this year. Only selected City investors were invited to participate in a share placing at 203p, with the vast body of shareholders left out in the cold. Still, that is now water under the bridge and there is no point harbouring a grudge. Around the time it elected to pull in extra cash the group acquired, for £28m, the Hargreaves Group, famed for the Mr Men collection.

It has already demonstrated its ability to make assets sweat. Considerable success has been achieved with Noddy around the world and Enid Blyton's little character seems set for an interesting - and hopefully profitable - run in the US. The Mr Men portfolio appears ready for much more determined exploitation with only a modest increase in overheads.

At the other end of the spectrum, a four-strong set of Poirot TV films has been screened in this country and appeared in the US. A Maigret series has arrived in Italy. I remember the huge TV success Maigret enjoyed in the black-and-white Sixties with Rupert Davies. I, for one, would be delighted if the old French detective achieved another TV run in this country.

But Chorion's horizons will not be limited to detection and children's characters. The chief executive, Nicholas James, talks about spreading into romance and science fiction.

Showbiz is often unpredictable and yesterday's hit is no guarantee of continuing success. But Chorion does seem to have acquired the happy knack of topping the bill. It has attracted take over attention in the past. A cheapskate approach was rightly rejected. But it must be looking increasingly enticing to one of the international giants. Any bid could - and should - be a real blockbuster.

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior SEO Executive

    £24000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior SEO Executive is requi...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Customer Service Administrator

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Online customer Service Admi...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global, industry leading, ...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living