Bottom Line: Follow Compass

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COMPASS, the catering company, goes from strength to strength. The shares jumped 19p to a new peak of 614p yesterday in the wake of a 30 per cent profits expansion.

Past growth has relied on catering for staff canteens. But the rights issue, or rather the accompanying acquisition, opened a new chapter. In buying SAS Service Partner, the catering arm of the Scandinavian airline, Compass began its push into Europe. It has also started to explore UK catering opportunities on sites that have so far been left unexploited.

Crucial to the success of the expansion is the collection of franchised food retailing brands the company has drawn together. Compass shares are trading on a prospective p/e of 15 - no more than the hotels and leisure sector average. Buy.