Bottom Line: Feeling the heat

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ANDREWS SYKES, the air-conditioning and heating equipment hire company, is going from bad to worse.

Operating profits for the year to 31 March, at last published yesterday, slumped by 70 per cent and exceptional charges pushed the company pounds 4.7m into the red, against a profit of pounds 1.3m.

A long-running battle for control of the company appears to have been won by near 30 per cent shareholder Jacques Murray, who became chairman in May. The wounds inflicted on senior management by the struggle will not be easily healed.

There is even gloom about the current spell of hot weather, which should be a boon to Andrews' air-conditioning hire business. Under-investment over the past few years means Andrews has too few appliances to satisfy demand.

There is no dividend, and a rights issue to reduce Andrews' heavy debt burden also seems likely. Hardly an alluring prospect.