The Week In Review: Smarter investors stay away
Saturday 04 March 2006
Will someone please take Alliance & Leicester over, if only to put an end to speculation that has become almost as predictable as the group's results.
The UK's seventh biggest bank has unveiled a tidy profit of £548m, up from £540m a year ago, and managed to increase the dividend a creditable 7 per cent, to 51.5p. But as far as the shares go, there seems little there to attract the smarter investor.
The bid gossip surrounding Alliance & Leicester has been around for ever. Management pretends to find it an irritation, but in reality it keeps the shares higher than they otherwise would be.
The City is getting tired of waiting for the takeover bid that never comes, and the shares look overpriced at almost 14 times forecast earnings. Sell.
The Chinguetti field off the shores of Mauritania has started to produce oil for the first time. This takes the group from being one of more than 100 resource explorers listed on the junior market to membership of the select club that actually produces oil. For any investor keen on exposure to oil exploration and production, Hardman should be a core holding.
This looks set to be another great year for recruitment group Robert Walters. The full-year figures saw the company register a 57 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £12.7m and a 12 per cent rise in the dividend, to 3.4p per share. By the end of the current year, analysts expect Robert Walters' profits to hit £15m. Buy.
The deregulation of Continental Europe's jobs arena is a great opportunity for recruiters and Hays is taking advantage. It has delivered a 40 per cent jump in the fees it earns from overseas operations. Last year it bought back £312m worth of its own shares. At 16 times forecast earnings for 2006, the stock is at a slight premium to the UK market but in line with peers. Hold.
Having disposed of both its closed life insurance book and UK financial advisory arm last year, Henderson's transformation into an uncomplicated fund manager is done. But what's next? A bid for rival Gartmore is fraught with problems, and medium-sized firms that have tried to be all things to all people in the past have not got far. Take profits.
If it was not for the performance of its US house building division the latest annual results from Taylor Woodrow would have been dire. Britain's third-biggest house builder managed a 2 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £411m thanks to a whopping 56 per cent jump in profits at its US operations. But now clouds are gathering for the company across the Atlantic, avoid.
Full-year profits from the food-casings maker Devro came in slightly below expectations. To blame was the fact the company had one fewer trading week in December. Still pre-tax profits rose to £25m from £18m previously. The shares trade at 14 times forecast earnings and are fairly priced.
Standard Chartered, makes over three-quarters of its earnings from Asia, has unveiled bumper profits for 2005 and a stiff hike in its dividend. At almost $2.7bn (£1.5bn), pre-tax profits rose 19 per cent last year after the £3.3bn purchase of Korea's SC First Bank began to pay off. Buy.
Alizyme shares are up nearly 50 per cent and were up again this week following positive trial data from the biotech's ATL104 treatment for Mucositis. ATL104 is not even Alizyme's most exciting product. Cetilistat, an anti-obesity formula, is widely talked of as a likely blockbuster. It also has a further two products on the way. While there is no guarantee that any of these drugs will actually make it, Alizyme should be a core holding for biotech bulls.
SHL Group is a world leader in psychometric testing. These are increasing used in the recruitment process of large companies so it is no surprise that SHL has unveiled solid results. Buy the shares.
Having spent many years disappointing the City, Arena Leisure has finally started to deliver for shareholders. Annual results from the racecourse owner revealed a 30 per cent jump in operating profits to £6.7m and a 10 per cent rise in sales. This is not a stock that is going to double overnight but should prove a good bet for long-term investors.
Logica is in the right place to cash in on global outsourcing
LogicaCMG has unveiled a 66 per cent rise in annual profits, thanks to the continued recovery in the IT services market last year.
The group, which provides IT services to business customers, has a great opportunity to outperform. Over the past year it has rapidly grown its ability to provide services from low-cost offshore centres such as its facility in Bangalore.
This should help it cash in on the growing trend among corporates to outsource their IT needs.
At 18 times forward earnings the shares are not expensive, but risk factors make Logica just a hold for now.
The above are recommendations taken from the daily Investment Column.
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 Martha Stewart accuses Snoop Dogg of 'smoking for four hours' during Justin Bieber Roast
- 3 I might be an MP, but that doesn't stop me fighting sexism with my breasts
- 4 Google April Fools': company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant
- 5 April Fools' Day 2015: The best hoax news stories from around the internet
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
Street preacher quoting from the Bible fined for calling homosexuality an 'abomination'
Woman filmed launching racist tirade against men on the Tube for speaking in 'own lingo'
Katie Hopkins attacked me on Twitter — so I reported her to the police for inciting racial hatred
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
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