Investment: Primesight lifts the gloom

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The Independent Online
IF THERE is to be an advertising slowdown, Primesight has not seen it yet. The fast-expanding outdoor advertising group, which floated last year, yesterday reported a buoyant set of figures which helped lift some of the gloom prompted by rival Maiden's profit warning earlier this year.

Turnover grew by a modest 13 per cent to pounds 7.31m in the six months to the end of June, but profits more than trebled to pounds 750,000 on the back of rapid growth in the number of six-sheet advertising panels from 3,250 to 4,600 in just six months.

Another 1,000 panels will be added by the end of the year, and the company has reached the scale where it can bid for national advertising budgets. It is also targeting prime urban sites to attract premium-rate advertising.

The international business has won a number of new contracts, including Nokia Mobile Phones and Barclays Private Banking, which have not yet translated into profits. The chief executive, Charles Daniels, is optimistic that the joint venture with Alban, the media buying agency, will quickly pay off.

The figures topped market forecasts yesterday and analysts were quick to raise forecasts for the full year to pounds 1.7m, rising to pounds 2.5m in 1999.

The bout of bid fever which pushed prices to a peak of 250p six months ago has subsided, but Primesight shares rose 9.5p yesterday to 178.5p. At just 11 times forecast earnings for the current year the shares look an attractive proposition.