Eurocamp shares dive on rumours

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The Independent Online
RUMOURS that Airtours, the holiday company, is snatching significant amounts of business from Eurocamp sent the campsite operator's shares tumbling 39p to 307p yesterday.

The rumours exacerbated market sentiment that was already nervous after a pessimistic trading statement from Eurocamp and profits downgradings from stockbrokers.

The anxiety centred on a suggestion that Eurosites, a subsidiary of Airtours, was taking business from Eurocamp for 1993 holidays. However, Richard Atkinson, Eurocamp's managing director, denied the whisper. 'We are not losing market share to Eurosites,' he said.

Figures released yesterday showed Eurocamp made pre-tax profits of pounds 9.4m in 1992, compared with a restated pounds 8.16m previously. The figures were re-calculated taking out the interest on debt repaid when the company floated in June 1991. Directly comparable operating profit figures for the year to 31 October increased 11 per cent. Earnings per share were 24.2p compared with the restated 21.2p. The total dividend is 9.75p.

Tom Neville, the chairman, said that some weakness in the UK was compensated for by strength in bookings from the Netherlands and Germany. Four fifths of Eurocamp's sites are in France but two thirds of the slots are booked in Britain.

He said late summer bookings were 'somewhat below expectations', and that bookings for this year are below normal.

Eurocamp's own stockbroker, SG Warburg, has reduced its forecast for the current year from pounds 10.5m to pounds 9.5m - just pounds 100,000 ahead of 1992.