Farnell forecasts upgraded: Interim results please the City as company buys a rival

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SHARES IN Farnell Electronics, the components distributor, jumped by more than 5 per cent yesterday when better-than-expected interim results prompted a wave of profit upgradings.

Forecasters were also encouraged by news that Farnell has bought a rival electrical distributor, Multicomponents, for pounds 46m.

The purchase is being made for cash and means that Farnell will take on debts equivalent to 40 per cent of its net assets. The seller is the US group ITT.

Mark Davies-Jones, an analyst at the securities house Smith New Court, revised his forecast for the 12 months to 31 January up to pounds 47m from pounds 42m. For the following year he has lifted his estimate by pounds 10m to pounds 58.5m.

Farnell sells 30,000 components a year. Most of the business is in the UK, but the acquisition of Multicomponents will increase its presence in Europe.

Farnell sells products in high volumes to equipment manufacturers. It also sells individual items by catalogue for use by plant repairers and developers, a method that brings wider profit margins.

Farnell's like-for-like profits for the half-year to 31 July jumped 33 per cent. Operating profits were pounds 21.2m, 10 per cent above some estimates.

Pre-tax profits fell back by pounds 500,000 to pounds 21.1m, but only because figures for the comparable period included a one-off profit from the sale of a subsidiary. Earnings per share were 10.5p against 12.3p or an adjusted 7.5p. The dividend is 3.2p compared with 2.7p last time.

The shares - which have risen from 320p this time last year, outperforming the stock market average by 15 per cent - climbed 26p yesterday to close at 486p.