City File: Quantum boost for Hanson

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The Independent Online
SWITCH from BTR into Hanson. That was the word from stockbrokers Panmure Gordon this week after the disappointing BTR results.

At 255p, Hanson shares carry the remarkable yield of 6 per cent, which is unlikely to last. Panmure's Charles Pick points out that the group's finance charges are easing while its Quantum acquisition in the US is proving a mint. It has raised polyethylene prices four times this year, adding a possible dollars 550m ( pounds 370m).

That could take pre-tax profits up from 1993's pounds 1bn to pounds 1.4bn next year, dragging the p/e ratio down to 13.2. Buy.

A GOOD summer, combined with continuing economic recovery, is putting fizz back into beer shares. But go for the nimbler regionals, rather than the lumbering national groups.

One of the brightest is Greenalls Group, which got out of brewing after the DTI's Beer Orders took effect and now concentrates on pubs, hotels and off-licences. It still makes soft drinks, vodka and gin.

Profits for the year ended this month may have risen from pounds 68.3m to pounds 85m, with help from the acquisition of Devenish. And the dividend record is strong, with increases in each of the past five years. At 461p on a rising trend and a 3.4 per cent yield, buy.

SHARES in Tadpole Technology are poised for a leap forward. There is talk that the workstations company, in which IBM has options over a 12 per cent stake, is about to land a big order within the next few days from a blue-chip US customer. Taxable profits for the year ending this month are expected to almost double to pounds 1.5m, but analysts are looking for a surge to pounds 6m next year, rating the shares, up 15p to 400p on Friday, on 15 times earnings.

GET OUT of Hunterprint shares. They fell 2p to 7p last week as the Canadian Quebecor revealed it was considering a bid. An offer could come this week - but it could be below the market price.

The only attractions of the debt-laden Hunterprint to the Canadians are the plant and a toehold in Britain. Otherwise, it's all uphill.

TAKE up the rights in Emap, the magazine publisher which last week launched a one-for- eight cash call at 360p a share. The company is gaining from steady improvement in the advertising climate in UK and France. The rights money will cut the group's net debts, currently at pounds 174m, and fuel further acquisitions. With earnings expected to grow by at least 20 per cent in the next two years, the shares look attractive for the long term.

THE Sheffield Insulations fan club was cheered by Friday's tripled interim profits and one- for-one scrip issue. The group, which insulates Smithfield meat market and the Houses of Parliament, is changing its name to the trendier SIG and could be heading for profits of nearly pounds 20m for the year. At 273p, that would drop the earnings multiple to 15. Cheap.

SELL IMI, the Midlands metal basher. Although it stands to gain from its building products and fluid power divisions, its titanium business is under the cloud engulfing the aerospace industry and is further threatened by cheap Russian exports.

At 325p, the 4 per cent yield is insufficient compensation for the uncertain outlook.