Burn Stewart statement stops slide

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The Independent Online
A FOUR-MONTH slump in Burn Stewart Distillers' shares was halted yesterday, with the City heartened by a positive trading statement and the announcement that the company had met last year's flotation profit forecast.

The shares, which peaked at 160p in May, turned away from this year's low with an 8p gain to 129p. They have underperformed the market by 13 per cent since being floated at 140p each.

Volume trading in Burn's shares has been subdued during the price slump, partly reflecting the settling down of its shareholder base after last year's pioneering intermediaries offer.

Burn said the aftermath of the intermediaries offer - a concept designed by a Stock Exchange think-tank to improve trading liquidity - had been a success.

'We were aware of significant trading immediately following the flotation, as the stags sold out . . . but we now have a good distribution of shareholders,' Campbell Stirrat, finance director, said. They will receive the forecast 3.33p final dividend.

He said Burn had increased annual pre-tax profits from pounds 8.2m to pounds 10.3m despite difficult conditions. Turnover rose from pounds 38m to nearly pounds 42m.

Burn makes blended whiskies which it sells under its own brands of Scottish Leader and Black Prince, and to the private label market. More than three quarters of production is exported.

Although whisky prices are under pressure, Burn said it had increased turnover since the 30 June year-end. Bill Thornton, the chairman, said: 'Assuming selling prices are at worst maintained - and the devaluation of sterling should be helpful in this regard - the immediate outlook is viewed with a modest degree of optimism.'

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