City File: Victims remain

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The Independent Online
AT THE other extreme from the reliable utilities are the victims of the recession - the property, construction and building materials companies - whose shares now stand at a fraction of their value of three or four years ago.

To judge by the market's reaction, you would think that all their troubles were behind them.

This is clearly ridiculous, particularly for property companies. No imaginable economic recovery will alter the chronic oversupply of office space in the City, so the recovery provides an ideal opportunity to bail out. With building shares, the recovery may be real but it will be delayed long enough to make last week's price rises look premature and exaggerated. Laing, for instance, soared 26p to finish the week at 140p. Good company, yes, and one that took its property losses on the chin, but, to use the old phrase, there's not much to go for.