Bottom Line: Pelican poser

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The Independent Online
ROGER MYERS, stylish chairman of Pelican, the theme restaurant group, returned from a holiday in the Venezuelan rain forest to present interim results yesterday. 'Expect a new theme style,' he joked. 'Headhunters' Restaurant, perhaps?'

There is a serious point. In addition to the core chain of 16 Cafe Rouge restaurants Pelican embraces four other dining themes and three stand-alone operations.

There is a danger that a relatively small company like Pelican could lose its focus, so threatening its short but impressive record.

There is no sign of that yet. Pre- tax profits for the six months to 30 September rose 169 per cent to pounds 960,000. A higher tax charge reined back the increase in earnings per share. There is no interim dividend, but an increased final - indicating a prospective yield of 2 per cent - looks on the cards.

The company says it will concentrate efforts on the Cafe Rouge and Mamma Amalfi, an Italian format. It is keen to stress the strength of its internal monitoring systems and has little debt, giving ample short- term scope to extend the Rouge and Amalfi chains.

Assuming full-year profits of pounds 3.7m, the shares, up 3p to 75p, are on a p/e of under 16 times.

The relatively modest rating, despite rapid growth, reflects market worries about how far and how safely Pelican can expand its various formulae. The shares have outperformed by 100 per cent during the past 18 months and there is potential scope to do still better.

But this is not one to lock away and forget about.

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