Camelia looks almost ready to bloom

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The Independent Online
When we last looked at Camellia, the agriculture to food trading business, its shares stood at pounds 20, and we said they looked attractive, primarily because it undervalued the group's unique assets. Its interim results last week also showed a strong turnaround at the operating level. A pounds 1m loss for the same period last year became a pounds 488,000 profit, mainly on the back of Lawrie Group, its main associate company. A dividend increased to 18p from 17.5p in 1995 reflects a "guardedly optimistic outlook for the rest of the year". Stick with the shares, now at pounds 24, which still do not fully reflect the underlying assets - or the prospects for further improvement.

QUEENSBOROUGH Holdings (28.5p), the caravan park and visitor attractions group run by Kevin Leech and Stuart Sims, of ML Laboratories fame, posts its interim figures next week. Pre-tax profits should show a strong revival in the group's fortunes, at around pounds 850,000, against a pounds 920,000 loss for the last full year. The double act recruited a new chief executive, Philip Mason, formerly of Rank Organisation. And they have spent pounds 47m on acquisitions, making it the third largest caravan park operator. The shares look undervalued. Buy.

UNILEVER shares (1,376p) have been on the up over the last two months, helped, of course by the resurgent bull market. But investors have also pinned their hopes on the new chief executive, Niall Fitzgerald, who took over the helm in September. There is a case however, for saying that the market is over-egging his ability to improve the group's fortunes. While he has emphasised his desire to refocus the group, and pep up management, his pronouncements suggest more a gradual evolution - rather than some root-and-branch upheaval. And within the mighty conglomerate, any real progress is only likely to become evident over the next five years. Third- quarter results, for example, are unlikely to dazzle, given the impact of dull summer weather on ice-cream sales. Expect some profit taking to take the shine off the shares - sell.

TECHHEADS ought to take a look at GEO Interactive Media, an Internet software developer that hopes to float its shares on AIM shortly, raising pounds 10m for a 10 per cent sale of its shares. Founded by former Israeli Defence Force specialists, the company's speciality is a software product, Emblaze, which accelerates the speed at which you can format and transmit data over the Internet. The Emblaze stable has three products: Creator, for Internet multimedia programming; Player, which will allow Internet users to access data in real time; and an e-mailer.

The whole point of all this is that it means Internet users get around one of the biggest drawbacks of the system - the chronically slow data-transfer rates currently available. Emblaze, it is claimed, uses sophisticated data compression to make the transfer instantaneous. It sounds interesting, and has a potentially huge market. There are plenty of risks - for example, it has yet to gain a patent in the US. Watch out for further details.

MONUMENT Oil & Gas has had its share of problems over its stake in the Liverpool Bay gas field. But the shares, at 59.5p, hardly reflect the true worth of its reserves. In the meantime, the company is on the way to sorting out the problems - which should leave the market free to concentrate on the real worth of the business. Liz Butler, the oils analyst at Panmure Gordon, has set a target of 80p, with profits after tax set to reach pounds 16.6m this year, and pounds 32.7m in 1997. That still leaves the shares trading on a multiple of 25.3 for 1996, but diminishing to a more acceptable 12.8 times 1997 earnings. Buy.

SINGER & Friedlander (127.5p), the once pedestrian merchant bank, again exceeded most expectations when it posted interim profits. Successes such as Collins Stewart, its purchase of stockbroker Carnegie, and a fund management arm with pounds 5bn of funds make it a buy.