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
Mark Dampier: 'We're on our own in retirement. They've pulled pensions to pieces'
Donald MacInnes: 'I have to have £500 a month spare from now until at least 2035'
HSBC becomes first bank to offer five-year fixed rate mortgage with interest rate under 2%
Crippling PFI deals leave Britain £222bn in debt
Pension freedoms: How to deal with cold calls from scammers
- 1 Alan Rickman admits editing 'terrible' script with friends in Pizza Hut behind backs of writers on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
- 2 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 3 Professional big game hunter Ian Gibson crushed to death by elephant during hunt
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 Rebecca Francis accuses Ricky Gervais of using 'influence' to target female hunters after receiving barrage of death threats
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...
£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...
Day In a Page
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
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