The Week in Review: Punch Taverns' shares are cheap
Saturday 26 April 2003
Hitachi Credit UK.
Those "buy now, pay later" deals offered by furniture retailers, jewellers and electrical goods companies are financed by groups such as Hitachi Credit UK. This company, two-thirds owned by the Japanese financing giant Hitachi Credit, reckons that any consumer slowdown might tempt stores to offer more of these sorts of incentives to customers. There is also optimism at last on its business lending division, which was crippled by bad debts in 2001. Hitachi has high debts and almost half its retail financing business comes from a single customer. But with a 7 per cent dividend yield, it is worth owning.
Results from the drinks giant this week dulled some of the pain from a profit warning in February. The group's top tipples, which include Beefeater gin and Courvoisier brandy, are growing nicely. There was also relief that Allied's wine business had escaped the worst of the global grape glut. But with consolidation in the sector off the menu for the time being and earnings forecast to be flat this year, the shares are only a hold.
It is tempting to write "sofa, so good" as a description of DFS Furniture's half-year results this week. It has been able to wring an extra 3 per cent in sales from its stores compared to a year ago, and that confounded investors who are convinced the UK economy is teetering on a slide in consumer spending. The economics don't look good, though, so those buying DFS shares now may find they have further to fall. The group remains strategically sound and its shares are worth holding for the dividend.
Ferraris Group is not at the big sportscar end of the stock market. After messy and disappointing figures from the medical devices company, it looks more like a Lada with the doors hanging off. Ferraris makes medical products used in cardiology and lung complaints, including monitoring equipment used in drug trials. Management is going to take some rehabilitation after a change in its accounting policy. Until it has two or three sets of clean results – no "one off" costs, no restatements of early accounts, no trading disappointments – Ferraris shares are only likely to drift. Sell.
Michael Spencer, the City grandee who runs Icap, is set to pull off his biggest deal since merging Garban and Intercapital to form the company in 1999. Already the world's largest inter-dealer broker, Icap will next week complete its £180m purchase of BrokerTec, a hi-tech brokerage owned by a consortium of investment banks, including Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and CSFB. BrokerTec brings Icap a needed respectable electronic trading platform, but it is being paid for in shares and these could overhang the market. Take profits.
Jason Goddard, the utilities analyst at CSFB, IP's house broker, says there is "very significant value" in IP shares. He has an interesting thesis to back him up. He conducts an imaginary "asset stripping" of the IP's portfolio of power stations and power generation investments, in the same way a corporate raider might, and concludes that, after selling and closing some assets, cash from the remainder provides a very tidy return on investment. IP is an interesting share for contrarians.
A profit warning at Stanley Leisure back on Budget day, which cited a luckless performance at its 37 regional casinos, sparked fears that punters were tightening their belts which, if true, would have also affected Rank Group's Grosvenor casino estate. Analysts have settled on the view that Stanley's problems are specific to the company. While Stanley relies on casinos for 65 per cent of its operating profits, they contribute just 10 per cent at Rank, which also owns Hard Rock Cafes and Deluxe film processing. Both shares have fallen too far. Stanley's shares look worth a flutter, while investors should stick with Rank for its 6 per cent dividend yield.
Originally called CADcentre, Aveva made acquisitions to broaden its product range from its original 3D design software and to enable more recurring "software services" revenue. Its software helps designers see interactions between components in factories, oil rigs and other big engineering projects, so it is less exposed to the economic and technology investment cycle than some rivals. Aveva is an expensive software stock, but is worth holding.
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Day In a Page
Previously two semi-detached properties, this five-bedroom home is spread over three floors with a large breakfast kitchen, orangery, office and gym on the second floor.
This five-bedroom home enjoys countryside views over the Blyth estuary to Southwold, offering flexible living space with a ground-floor annexe - ideal for use as a holiday let.
Close to the market town of Eye, this four-bedroom detached home offers a double-height living room which takes the place of the original, 19th-century, chapel nave.
Dating back to the 19th century, this four-bedroom home needs modernising. Spanning three storeys, the red-brick house has a fireplace, a small terrace and a cellar.
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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.
A former coach house, Glebe Farm Stable is now a three-bedroom cottage with a double car barn, an attached office, kennels and an outbuilding that's currently used as a gym.
Located beside an impressive Victorian viaduct, this four-bedroom home has an open-plan living area that is glazed on two sides, with skylights and high ceilings.
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This five-bedroom, detached home blends traditional and modern design; the sleek kitchen features a gas hob and oven set within an exposed chimney breast.
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Well-located for coastal walks and popular restaurants, this detached four-bedroom home offers views over farmland, to the Solent, the Purbecks and Bournemouth.
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This four-bedroom Edwardian home offers a combination of original features and contemporary design after a renovation by the current owners.
This four-bedroom home offers a vaulted ceiling in a breakfast room that's ideal for summer entertaining with doors that open to the patio and garden.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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 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.
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