Bottom Line: Vaux pas on profit

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The Independent Online
VAUX Group was guilty yesterday of underselling itself, by tempering its good set of figures with yet another swipe at the Government's heavy-handed treatment of the brewing industry.

Sir Paul Nicholson, chairman, failed to highlight the underlying growth in operating profits. A stated 9.5 per cent rise to pounds 42.9m translates to almost 12 per cent, after adjusting for the extra week's trading in 1991/2.

All four divisions, which trade in the unpredictable northern economies, have increased returns.

Trading profits, for instance, from the Vaux and Wards breweries rose 10.2 per cent to pounds 21.5m - a solid performance given the price wars in wholesale beer and the decline in consumption.

And hotels, despite the tough bartering on room rates by customers, also recorded a 10 per cent gain to pounds 13.8m.

Vaux is also financially sound, although this year will probably see a further cash outflow that will take gearing from 41 per cent to around 45 per cent.

And while current trading is difficult, Vaux is well placed to push forward as conditions improve.

In the short term, the shares at 280p trade on a fully valued p/e of 17. However, the prospective yield, assuming a 10 per cent rise in the dividend to 10.5p, is still an attractive 4.6 per cent. A good long-term investment.

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