Henlys cashes in on the bus wars

THE BUS wars that are sweeping Britain's roads and high streets hold out the prospect of more than just cut-price fares for commuters. Henlys, now one of the UK's largest coach builders, has seen orders climb rapidly with the expansion of activity in the sector.

Recent results were ahead of most forecasts, and there is every reason to believe that the shares will continue to outperform. At 598p, they trade at around 14 times 1996 pre-tax earnings, which could reach pounds 33m.

Shareholders have enjoyed spectacular returns over the past four years, with the shares up fourfold in that time. That rate of return will probably slow, but there is still plenty of incentive to stick with current management. Buy.

PROOF OF the woes besetting food stocks comes with some of the yields to be found in the sector: 10.1 per cent for Albert Fisher; 7.5 per cent at Booker and 7.2 per cent at troubled United Biscuits.

Much of this reflects caution over the continuing price competition in the sector, and justifiably so. However, yields like this are tempting.

Perkins Foods, on 7 per cent, is one where a cautious buy can be argued. Although its latest results show a mixed performance - frozen foods, for example, experienced tougher trading than in 1994 - matters are definitely improving. Pre-tax profits of pounds 21.9m, against last year's pounds 19.7m, are still below 1992's pounds 22.3m. There were also significant benefits from favourable exchange rates.

However, profits should edge ahead again in 1996. At 79.5p, that leaves the shares on a prospective multiple of almost nine times earnings - which is hardly demanding. Buy for the income.

THE FIVE-YEAR track record of Hay & Robertson, a leisure wear and rag trade business, reads like something out of Monty Python, or a how not to ... of business. Disaster follows disaster as surely, it seems, as night follows day.

Quite why it has a stock market listing is something of a mystery. Turnover of pounds 673,421 for the year to last September was easily outstripped by losses of pounds 702,317.

Over the past five years, the company has not once made a profit. The dividend has been passed for at least the past six years; preference shareholders have not been paid a penny since 1965, and are owed a cumulative total of pounds 130,235.

So an open offer and placing at 47p a share, against Friday's price of 49p, to raise pounds 2.59m from the market surely merits an award for barefaced cheek. However, the move is the work of new management, so this could be a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. Or, for investors, it could be a case of throwing good money after bad. Moreover, costs for the exercise are considerable. The broker, Wise Speke, will pick up pounds 40,000. On balance, this is probably best left as a business school case study.

ANOTHER smaller company situation, this time in the adventurous world of mineral exploration. Minmet was once the corporate fiefdom of controversial businessman Paul Bristol. He resigned last September, when Jeremy Metcalfe took on the mantle of running the company. Mr Metcalfe has decided to pare back the business to its gold exploration.

Most peripheral assets have already been sold, and the company is weighing an offer for its tree company. It hopes to float its stake in a Russian electronic publishing venture on the Alternative Investment Market.

So what is left? Principally, its 59.2 per cent stake in Connary Minerals. The excitement here is the licence it has for some gold reserves in Portugal. It has already proved up 33,000 ounces of reserves, while there is, in addition, almost a million ounces of silver.

Total reserves of gold are close to 200,000 ounces, and could be significantly higher, while an unexpected bonus has come in the discovery of significant kaolin reserves. Since Portugal is a net importer of the stuff, which is used in ceramics and paper production, there is a ready domestic market.

It all sounds very promising, but as every gold miner knows, it is not finding the gold that counts so much - it is being able to get it out of the ground.

The shares, traded over the counter in Dublin, are at 11/4p. It is clear the company is on a sounder footing - the Portuguese prospect could bring in some real money, as long as a big partner to fund full-scale production can be found. Expect a switchback ride.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent