City File: BICC

RUMOURS of problems in Spain and Italy swirled around BICC last week in anticipation of next week's results and pushed the price down 16p over the week to 325p. Stay calm, says Tom Leahy, an analyst at BZW - and not only because the shares had already been underperforming the market for months.

More positively, according to Mr Leahy, demand for BICC's cables remains solid in most markets: the Italians badly need a better electricity grid; the Germans need to rewire the telephone system in the former East Germany. There is recovery to come in the US, where BICC lost money last year because of reorganisation problems, and the market has fully allowed for the write-offs from BICC's disastrous diversification into property.

Mr Leahy reckons profits will be down pounds 6m at pounds 75m pre-tax, which leaves the shares on a handy, well-covered dividend yielding nearly 8 per cent.

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