Bottom Line: Signs of colour at Jerome

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AT FIRST sight the performance of S Jerome, the textiles company, does not instil a lot of investor confidence. It has made losses two years running and once again paid no dividend last year.

Its shares are trading at 54p - near a record low - having peaked at 327p just before the 1987 crash. A rights issue in October 1988 was pitched at 235p.

Jerome's business centres on dyeing yarn different colours for use in patterned material, classically check.

But there is a positive case to be made. Profits of pounds 2.4m in 1988 slumped to losses of pounds 1.1m in 1991. Last year, however, Jerome made a modest recovery as pre-tax losses were restricted to pounds 246,000.

The textiles sector will be among the first to benefit from recovery. Jerome supplies a broad range of high street retailers in both womens and menswear. Womenswear is already improving, but Jerome's fortunes will turn sharply if men decide to cheer up their wardrobes.

Debt has been reduced with the sale of CMR Electronics, but before the sale Jerome had to take a painful pounds 1m write-off below the line against the cost of installing security systems at Canary Wharf, for which it is unlikely to be paid.

Alan Jerome, chairman, reports that the new year has seen volumes up 10 per cent. If the company makes base profits of pounds 750,000, the shares, up 4p yesterday - 8 per cent -, are trading at 8 times prospective earnings. Buy for recovery.