Blenheim price dives after profit warning after profit warning

Blenheim, the previously high-flying exhibition organiser, stunned the City yesterday with its fourth profits warning in 18 months. The company's shares closed 35p lower at 199p, a 15 per cent fall.

Neville Buch, chairman, said the cost of restructuring, coupled with difficult trading conditions in France and the US, Blenheim's biggest markets, meant that profits would be below previous expectations of at least £32m.

Analysts now forecast profits of £30m compared with the record £45.2m of 1993. This year is not expected to show much improvement and speculation has turned to a possible takeover of Blenheim, with Reed thought to be taking a close look.

The decline in Blenheim's fortunes has been much quicker than its relentless rise since the company was founded in 1980. Its shares, with next to no asset backing, have fallen from a peak in March 1993 of 599p.

A source close to the company said yesterday that Blenheim was paying the price for its hubris between 1991 and 1993 when a flamboyant management surprised investors with its claims to be largely recession-proof.

Analysts argue that forward bookings that characterised the exhibition and conference industry meant Blenheim entered the recession later than most businesses.

Christopher Crowcroft, finance director, said redundancies in France and the US would cost about £4m. This would be taken against 1994's results, to be announced in March.

He said there was no question of management changes. Phil Soar, the former publisher and chief executive until November 1993, took the blame for two profits downgrades immediately following a £76m fund-raising that summer, stepping down from the top job and leaving the company five months later.

The absence of any warning at the time of the issue incensed investors who had subscribed to the fund-raising. After years of growth Blenheim appeared to have come off the rails.

Competitors maintain that Blenheim has always paid premium prices for many of its exhibitions. The company is also not represented in the Far East, which provides some of the best growth markets in the industry.

Blenheim's supporters say that the fundamentals of the business remain good, with pre-tax margins on 1994's forecasts still 19 per cent. But few in the City expect the shares to recover their previous heights.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Retirement Coordinator - Financial Services

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...

Recruitment Genius: Annuities / Pensions Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...

Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Officer - Altrincham - up to £24,000.

£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower