Investment Column: Aga a hot property as first-half sales rise 10%

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The Aga stove has life in it yet. In a trading update, Aga Foodservice said first-half sales were up 10 per cent. Interestingly, cooker models introduced in the last three years now account for 25 per cent of orders. And a fifth of orders came from outside the UK.

The Aga stove has life in it yet. In a trading update, Aga Foodservice said first-half sales were up 10 per cent. Interestingly, cooker models introduced in the last three years now account for 25 per cent of orders. And a fifth of orders came from outside the UK.

For a company whose cookers are old-fashioned, large and can cost some £3,000, that is pretty good going. Clearly, the current obsession with home improvement and for housewives to aspire to be a "domestic goddess" serves the company very well. Products such as the three-oven Aga and the electric Aga had achieved "immediate customer acceptance". The company said first-half profits would be beat last year's.

In the other half of the business, which fits out commercial kitchens, the news was more mixed. Bakery and food service markets remained "quiet" in the UK, although orders have now started to pick up and the number of projects and roll-outs under discussion "suggest a stronger second half". On the continent, there were flat sales volumes but improving margins. Current business opportunities here "are encouraging". In the US, sales were "satisfactory" but margins were under cost-push pressures.

The shares, at 233p, trade on a forward multiple of less than 10, which is not demanding. Buy.

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