The Week In Review: The cost of a healthy lifestyle
Saturday 15 April 2006
Can things get any worse for Northern Foods? In the wake of last month's profits warning from the food producer, its shares have continued to lose ground and are at an all-time low.
Northern seems to be under siege from all sides. Sales are under pressure because of changing eating habits. Consumers are shunning the group's sausage rolls and quiches for healthier alternatives.
On the cost side, conditions are also difficult. Northern is up against rising energy prices: it cooks the majority of its foods and has been hit by soaring utility bills. Worse, it has been unable to pass on these costs to food retailers.
Pat O'Driscoll, who 18 months ago was parachuted into the company with a mandate to carry out reforms, now finds herself in an unenviable position. Last month, she launched a strategic review, the conclusions of which will be made public alongside annual results in May.
Things are likely to get worse before they get better at Northern Foods. Sell.
W S ATKINS
If readers had bought £1,000 worth of W S Atkins shares on 1 October 2002, their stake would be now be worth more than £17,300. Shares in the engineering consultancy continued their meteoric rise after the group put out a bullish trading statement this week. Analysts now forecast pre-tax profits of about £70m for the year to 31 March 2006, up from £60m last time around. Take profits, but don't abandon the stock entirely. It trades at an undeserved discount to peers.
Ardana's announcement that its testosterone-replacement cream has passed an intermediate clinical trial was good news for many men, and the firm. It has a number of other drugs in the pipeline, the lead among them being Teverelix, a compound that has the potential to treat a range of conditions, including prostate cancer and endometriosis. Ardana is one of The Independent's stock tips of the year. Given the positive news, it remains very much a buy.
The electronics distributor Abacus has made its second acquisition of the year. Swallowing the profitable French-based company Axess Technology makes a lot of sense and sees Abacus become Europe's fourth-biggest player in its sector. Buy.
There seems little doubt that Bioquell has the technology to eradicate hospital superbugs such as Clostridium difficile and MRSA. But hospitals are not clamouring over one another to get their hands on Bioquell's technology. Until it starts getting major orders for its technology, the stock is best avoided.
Walker Greenbank broke into the black this week for the first time in six years. The designer registered full-year pre-tax profits of £2.6m compared to a loss of £800,000 in 2005. In the wake of the figures, analysts were forced to sharply upgrade their earnings forecasts, while directors are believed to have piled into the market. Buy.
The old advertising adage says that sex sells and SSL International's latest trading statement boasted of a 5 per cent rise in annual sales, helped by a series of new sex related products and some clever advertising. Takeover rumours have been behind the jump in the stock since the start of the year. A bid is a possibility but there are no guarantees and the shares are at a premium. Avoid.
The Kaye family, who were behind Garfunkel's and Ask Central, are on the way to another fortune from the restaurant business. Their latest venture Prezzo, an AIM listed Italian chain, has served up stellar annual figures - a rise in pre-tax profits from £4.1m to £6.4m with a 68 per cent jump in sales to £37m. Buy
Investing in football clubs has been a one-sided encounter over the years, with the misses currently giving the hits a sound thrashing. The latest results from Newcastle United did little to reverse this trend, with declining television coverage and a lack of European competition making a £6m dent in revenues. Sell.
Cash flows tell St Ives' profits story in black and white
Times are tough for the printing group St Ives plc. Intense competition is taking its toll on profits at the printer of Vogue, GQ, The Economist and the latest Harry Potter book.
Much of the damage is being done by privately owned rivals that have drastically cut prices to win new business. St Ives has announced a 24 per cent drop in pre-tax profits to £15.6m in its interim results. These figures were made worse after the group was forced to place work with rivals after it had to temporarily shut its US operations in Florida because of Hurricane Wilma.
St Ives still enjoys impressive cash flows, however. These make it an attractive prospect to private-equity players awash with money to invest.
In the first half of its financial year, the group generated £32m of cash flow from its operations. Of that total, £17m was spent on new equipment to make the business more efficient and the rest went towards cutting debt and paying dividends to shareholders. Buy.
The above recommendations are taken from the daily Investment Column
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
The best deals on personal loans: Peer-to-peer providers are more competitive for smaller sums
China stock market: My portfolio's in pain, but it was never for the financially faint-hearted
China stock collapse: Five things you need to know about 'Black Monday'
Questions of Cash: 'Our dividends seem to have disappeared when TSB was bought and then born again'
Bargain Hunter: Groupon has a great deal at Wimbledon Greyhound Stadium
- 1 The difference between a migrant and refugee, in one sentence
- 2 Miley Cyrus calls out hypocrisy of women’s nipples being taboo
- 3 Celebrity Big Brother 2015: Tila Tequila kicked off show after 'describing Hitler as a good man'
- 4 iPhone 5c to be discontinued, no iPhone 6c to replace it
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...
£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
Day In a Page
In a sandbanks location, moments from the beach, this three-bedroom apartment has a large open-plan living area and a south-west facing balcony.
This four-bedroom home has an annexe accessed from the side of the house, with potential for improvement and conversion subject to the necessary permissions.
In the heart of the hamlet of Wardley, this five-bedroom period home offers countryside views and a stylish interior, with original features and open fireplaces.
Offering countryside views and landscaped gardens, this three-bedroom Grade II-listed lodge has a spacious conservatory and a large cellar that could serve as a workshop.
Set in approximately 1.5 acres, this four-bedroom home comes with a second, detached property that's currently used as an annexe.
In the hamlet of Newchurch, this former parish church is now a four-bedroom home complete with clock tower and eyrie.
Offering scenic views from a large balcony and sun terrace, this four-bedroom home has a wraparound garden and a heated swimming pool.
Offering views across the Humber and East Yorkshire Wolds from a glass panelled balcony, this four-bedroom barn-style home befits a life of leisure.
This four-bedroom home offers versatile accommodation with annexe potential; features include a hot tub, sauna and Norwegian BBQ hut.
Well-located for schools, colleges and the town centre, this contemporary thatched cottage offers flexible living space with six bedrooms.
Built in 1907, this four-bedroom Edwardian period home has been refurbished by the current owners, retaining many original period features.
Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this five-bedroom home offers living space across three floors.
This lovely country home in Burnham Market is currently run as a popular holiday cottage, with five en suite bedrooms and colourful gardens.
This three-bedroom 17th-century former village bakery is just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
Set on a landscaped plot, this light and airy four-bedroom home comes with a log burner in the lounge, a fitted kitchen and an open-plan ground-floor layout.
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.
Built on a former chapel site, this impressive four-bedroom home boasts balconies, stunning views and contemporary modern living.
This three-bedroom house is situated in a quiet mews and set over three floors. Features include glazed staircases and high ceilings.
A period townhouse set over four floors, this five-bedroom home was built in the 18th Century and retains many original features.
With five bedrooms, this spacious home offers beautiful gardens and modern interiors - set within the popular market town of Bingley.
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.
In the pretty market town of Bungay, this grade II-listed Mill House is arranged over four floors, offering four bedrooms and three reception areas.
This first-floor flat comes with two bedrooms, an impressive open-plan reception room and two lovely roof terraces.
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.
Moored at Taggs Island and reached via a pretty garden, this two-bedroom houseboat has a vaulted reception room and skylit garden studio - currently a beauty salon.
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.
A contemporary house spread over three storeys, this three-bedroom detached home has large sliding doors that open out to the River Quaggy.
Moored in Chelsea's Cheyne Walk, this houseboat offers two double bedrooms and a teak deck that's ideal for al-fresco dining.
This former village bakery, dating back to the 17th century, is now a three-bedroom detached home just a few miles from the East Sussex coast.
On the picturesque Isle of Man, this four-bedroom character home has a ground-floor shop that's currently run as a newsagents and a flat that would make an ideal holiday let.
In a new collection of flats, this first-floor two-bedroom apartment offers ample entertaining space and a prime view of Furze Green from a private balcony.
This three-bedroom stone-built cottage currently trades as the village store with a restaurant in the annexe and family accommodation on the upper floors.
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.
Just outside of Cambridge, this single-storey home offers three double bedrooms, a living room with vaulted timber ceiling and ladder steps that lead to a mezzanine study area.
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.
A former furniture workshop, this three-bedroom home has high ceilings and painted brick walls, in a village setting only fifteen miles from the coast.
This five-bedroom stone townhouse features a pine staircase and an Inglenuk fireplace, double doors from the lounge give access to an enclosed courtyard.
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.
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.
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 six-bedroom home is set amongst three acres of grounds. Currently a large family home, Clift Hill has potential to make a B&B or countryside retreat, subject to change of use permissions.
This Grade II-listed three-bedroom home is situated on a private road, just a short walk from the sandy beaches of Frinton-on-Sea.
Less than five miles from Malmesbury, this four-bedroom cottage comes with equestrian facilities and gardens that extend to approximately three acres.
Spanning three storeys, this late-Victorian five-bedroom farmhouse is a spacious family home with a modern interior and B&B potential.
With an original church arch, this triplex one-bedroom church conversion has a light, spacious, feel and comes with a secure off-street parking space.