CITY FILE : Burton ready to fall off the peg

DON'T BE long of Burton Group shares ahead of Thursday's interim results from the troubled retail group. The share price at 76p has run far ahead of the tentative recovery in Burton's trade. The present yield of 3.5 per cent and historical 37 price-earnings ratio leave no room for error, and if the half-year results show the slightest shakiness, the shares will tumble. As it is, even the most optimistic analysts do not expect profits of more than £75m for the year to September, leaving the shares on a multiple of 19. A £72m result is more likely, lifting the prospective multiple over 20. Too high.

BUY TSB Group shares, says Richard Marshall of Investment Research. He reckons the share price's 200-day moving average is now moving up firmly behind the daily price, indicating solid support. "The chart has recently become more bullish. Resistance at the 250p level has been penetrated, signalling the start of a new advance. I anticipate a rally developing to the 275p area." Marshall sees profits rising 19 per cent this year, putting the shares on a prospective p/e ratio of only 9.4. Prospective yield: 4.8 per cent.

BEHOLD the raging share price of Transtec, a specialist engineer that has come under the wing of Richard Carr, a graduate of the uncompromising Tomkins school of management. "High enough," said some pundits when the company announced year-end results last month. Price then: 53p. Price now: 78p, after 80p. Unusually for such a turnround, at this level, the shares still carry a 3.2 per cent yield. Worth buying up to 100p as the Carr magic gets to work.

Hanson shareholders should be pleased by the group's first results since it announced the demerger of its US interests in February. At 240p, the shares are on a prospective multiple of only 12 and should be helped by the de-gearing effect of the US deal. Most of its divisions are trading well, and the dividend is sufficiently well covered to make a 6.3 per cent yield a formality. The wild card is whether Lords Hanson and White will ever pull off that long-touted mega- deal - but if they do, it will certainly be designed to enhance earnings. Buy.

IF YOU have been dazzled by the multimedia revolution, and would like to buy a piece of the action, you could do worse than get into BCE Holdings, the former Bristol Coin Equipment. The tiny group is switching from the amusement arcade trade into computer software. It has bought Rage Software and Software Creations, which in the half-year to March chipped in £1m to group profits of £713,000. Earnings for the year could hit 0.7p, giving the shares at 13p a p/e of 18. Worth a punt.

BY WAY of a taster for the Nuclear Electric flotation, on Tuesday National Power presents its results for the year to March. They come in the wake of the Government's sale of its remaining 40 per cent stake earlier this year, when the group effectively committed itself to dividend growth of a cool 20 per cent a year. That should bolster the shares, but the best way in is still through the partly paid variety issued in the recent sale, as they give a proportionately better return.

SINCE Jim Leng became chief executive at the packaging group Low & Bonar three years ago, the group has been gaining from Leng's textbook strategy of selling lossmakers and concentrating on the core. That produced a 40 per cent profits jump last year, and another 20 per cent could be on the cards this time round. That would put the shares, at 476p, on a multiple of less than 14 times earnings, which is not demanding while there is plenty of growth to be squeezed out. Buy.

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