No Pain, No Gain: How showbiz and share can make a good mix
Saturday 02 October 2004
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.
- 1 Games of Thrones actor Lena Headey makes emotional promise to her unborn daughter
- 2 Isis burns woman alive for refusing to engage in 'extreme' sex act, UN says
- 3 Puerto Rico, island of lost dreams: People are leaving the debt-hit territory in droves as near neighbour Cuba's star rises
- 4 Female Muay Thai champion hustles coaches to give them a beating
- 5 16-year-old girl beaten and burned alive by lynch mob in Rio Bravo, Guatemala
As a white man, I'm surprised more women aren't tweeting the hashtag #KillAllWhiteMen
Scotland may have to leave the EU even if it votes to stay in, David Cameron confirms
Report finds that Britain's wages are the most unequal in Europe
The day that Britain resigned as a global power
Almost a third of school pupils believe 'Muslims are taking over our country', study claims
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
iJobs Money & Business
£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...
£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...
£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...
£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...
Day In a Page
On the market for the first time in more than 50 years, this six-bedroom home is a project with vast potential - spread over three floors of living space.
This five-bedroom home comes with a range of outbuildings including a large barn which could be converted into a self-contained granny-flat or rental.
Surrounded by rolling countryside, this four-bedroom barn conversion comes with a self-contained, one-bedroom annexe that could serve as an office or a holiday let.
Located near Harrogate town centre, this five-bedroom Victorian terrace is arranged over three storeys while a current study serves as an optional sixth bedroom.
A ground-floor flat in a country house, located a mile from Sway; this two-bedroom home would make an ideal weekend retreat on the edge of the New Forest.
On a popular residential lane in Caterham on the Hill, this four-bedroom family home offers a secluded garden and a convenient location for local schools and public transport.
Just a short walk from Westerham green, this three-bedroom cottage has a light kitchen with exposed brickwork and double doors that lead to a south-facing garden.
In a prime spot opposite the River Thames, this one-bedroom flat has an 18sq ft reception room with glass doors that open out to a private terrace.
Set in the hills above Llanwrda Village, west Wales, this 18th-century three-bedroom farmhouse has holiday-let potential from a separate barn conversion and annexe.
This charming end-of-terrace townhouse is arranged over three floors, with two double bedrooms and a private courtyard garden located at the rear of the property.
This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
Located in the University area, this semi-detached five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors - there's even a rear garden and off-road parking too.
Only a few minutes' drive from the charming town of Marlow, this two-bedroom home sits on the private riverside estate of Harleyford.
This detached four-bedroom home in Middleyard is arranged over two floors, with features that include a wood-burning stove and bespoke oak staircase.
In a row of eight detached Georgian residences, this five-bedroom home offers views of The Sound, Mount Edgcumbe and Cornwall from its impressive veranda and full-length balcony.
If you love cooking for friends this two-bedroom flat - complete with views of the iconic Battersea Power Station and an open-plan kitchen/dining area - will go down a treat.
Located above Grasmere village, this five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors and offers countryside views across Grasmere Lake towards Silver Howe.
Surrounded by the Western fells, this five-bedroom Georgian home retains many original features including panel-plastered ceilings, sash windows and fireplaces.
This six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B, subject to change of use permissions.
A former period coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Set sail for this four-bedroom farmhouse in Cowes. With five acres of land and an indoor pool, this home oozes character. There is even potential to let a one-bedroom annexe.
Surrounded by woodland, this five-bedroom manor house has plenty of outdoor storage space in the form of three converted loose boxes, two smaller outhouses and a woodstore.
This four-bedroom detached home comes with a double carport, useful workshop, garden and two walkways that offer views of the adjacent countryside.
With space for an equestrian business, a greenhouse for growing your own veg, a wine store and a gym; this five-bedroom home has all the ingredients for a country retreat.
This four-bedroom home has exposed brick chimneys and a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining - the doors open to the patio and garden.
The decked roof terrace of this two-bedroom flat is perfect for summer drinks while large windows and ample storage space make for a light and spacious interior.
Surrounded by approximately 15 acres of grounds, this six-bedroom grade II-listed home has been extensively refurbished yet retains many period features.
This four-bedroom home comes with a two-bedroom cottage and commercial office, with planning to extend, in a stunning courtyard setting.
In a pretty Norfolk village, this four-bedroom family home is surrounded by landscaped gardens, with even a self-contained annex for guests.
A few miles from the seaside at Perranporth, this four-bedroom farmhouse sits amongst nine acres of idyllic grounds - including a lake and two barns used as holiday lets.
This five-bedroom home is arranged over three floors of a converted Victorian hospital, offering spectacular views of the Pentland Hills - only three miles from the city centre.
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