City File: Free for all at Kalamazoo

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The Independent Online
THE POT is bubbling nicely at Kalamazoo, the Birmingham- based computer company that takes its name from a small town in Michigan, US.

Now the Kalamazoo Trust, the majority shareholder created by the Quaker founders on behalf of the staff in the late 1940s, has agreed to relinquish control. The directors can issue shares up to the equivalent of 5 per cent of the capital. So expect a little acquisitions spree shortly.

After a turbulent transition from its original printing and accounting business, Kalamazoo is forecast to report pounds 5m in pre-tax profits this June. Earlier in the year the shares slumped to less than 120p, but they have climbed back to 140p and look set to heat up further.

ALMOST a month to the day after opening its first Cargo Club in the great metropolis of Croydon, Nurdin & Peacock will unveil a modest pre-tax rise to about pounds 32m for the year. This Wednesday it will confirm that the cash 'n' carry business is proving less cash than carry, as the independent grocery sector slows down.

The Cargo Club formula is unlikely to reverse the trend, although Nurdin & Peacock's present conversion programme, which will change almost all its branches into trade warehouses, may buoy the business for a while. Even so, it probably won't be able to buck the trend towards fewer bucks. Wait for the shares, 210p, to come down.

THERE is more than meets the eye to the sharp rally in Enterprise Oil, up 40p in the past fortnight. A recovery in crude oil prices is partly responsible, but the company is also in talks with Shell to boost its share in Nelson, the big North Sea field that began production earlier this year.

Enterprise has a stake of nearly 32 per cent in Nelson but that could rise to 35 per cent. The talks are part of a complex formula linked to oil reserves held in the Nelson block.

Two weeks ago the oil independent negotiated a bigger share in the new Scott field. There are high hopes that it will now pull off a double. But given continuing uncertainty about crude prices, the shares, which closed at 439p last Friday, are only for long-term investors.

THERE are signs of rising discord at Euro Disney. Several of the 63 banks financing Mickey's French venture are said to be talking to brokers about selling their debt.

In addition, up to 20 Japanese banks have reportedly written to the joint bank steering committee stating their objections to the outline restructuring of the park's Fr21bn debt.

One Japanese banker told the Reuters news agency in Paris last week that he wanted banks that lent on subordinated terms to play a bigger role.

Proponents of the secondary debt market have always said that it is good for restructurings because it provides an exit for unhappy banks. This may be the chance to prove it.

SHARES in London International Group, the maker of Durex condoms, finished the week 15p lower at 130p. This followed last week's story in the Independent on Sunday suggesting that the sales of its ColourCare subsidiary and other divisions were taking longer than expected.

The company insists that its strategic review remains on course and that all the sales it plans will have taken place by early summer, as the new management indicated when it made noises to that effect last December. Until the sales happen, however, the shares remain high enough.

AFTER peaking briefly at 589p, shares in the electrical bits and pieces distributor Electrocomponents are back to the 510p at which they began the year. There they seem to have stuck, pausing for breath after a strong surge from less than 200p at the end of 1990.

Richard Marshall of the chart analysts Investment Research of Cambridge identifies this as an opportunity to buy before the long-term up trend is resumed.

Electrocomponents has amassed a stock market tag of pounds 1bn, making it a candidate for the FT-SE 100 index before long. That should give the shares a further fillip.

According to The Earnings Guide, an average of eight top brokers' forecasts suggests the group's profits have risen from pounds 51.9m to pounds 70.6m in the year ended last month. Swallow a fancy 28.7 earnings multiple and buy the shares.