City File: Show stopper

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The Independent Online
Blenheim Group, which runs exhibitions all over Europe, is one of the most successful stock market performers of recent years. Of course there are doubters, and Blenheim's accounts, published last week, may fuel some of those worries.

Courageously, Blenheim writes off all good will on its acquisitions of exhibition companies. By 31 December 1992 it had written off pounds 324m, leaving it with a deficiency in shareholders' funds of pounds 135m. This may look bad, but it should not be a problem if the values of the exhibitions hold up and can be justified by their income.

But can they? There are dark mutterings that Blenheim paid too much for its French exhibitions businesses. And the accounts show that Blenheim made operating profits of pounds 58.3m in 16 months, an annualised return on assets of 13.5 per cent. This seems healthy, but is it enough to justify Blenheim's exalted rating?

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