Investment column: Gowrings

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The Independent Online
GOWRINGS' BUSINESS is built on running franchises for Burger King and Ford, but the company denies that its 16 per cent sales and 37 per cent profits growth is down to any special ability as a franchise operator. In both cases it has particular, long-established relationships with the franchise owners.

The company has no plans to take on further franchises and expects the restaurant division to drive the group forward. It should lift the number of its Burger King stores from 31 to 37 within a year, and has an agreement to open a further 21. New openings helped the division lift sales in the half year by 39 per cent to pounds 12m.

Meanwhile, the group sees opportunities to capitalise on its 70-year relationship with Ford. Analysts forecast pre-tax profits of pounds 2m and earnings of 14.5p this year. The shares, at 135.5p, trade at below their net asset value. That's harsh given the group's trading record. Buy.

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