Market Report: Hot share tip behaves like a Rank outsider

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The Independent Online
RANK ORGANISATION, one of the more popular tips for 1994, ran into profit-taking with the shares falling 21p to 1,013p.

Year's profits are due to be announced on Thursday with around pounds 265m, possibly pounds 270m, against pounds 230.1m expected.

Rank shares have moved ahead powerfully as more and more supporters have emerged, leaving little, if any, room for disappointment with the results. They were 873p at the start of last month.

Hoare Govett took the view that shares had run ahead of events and suggested profits should be taken.

Worries persist about some of Rank's leisure activities, particularly the Butlin's holiday centres, but there are hopes that higher profits are being squeezed from other leisure operations.

Talk persists that Rank will soon receive a huge cash injection from the sale of its interest in the Rank Xerox office equipment business.

Some wonder whether Michael Gifford, chief executive, will have news of the sale when the profits are announced.

The rest of the stock market had another roller-coaster session with, in busy trading, the FT-SE 100 index swinging from a 22.1- point gain to a 16-point fall, settling for a 5.4 minus to 3,440.6 at the close. Even the supporting FT- SE 250 lost its record-breaking exuberance, ending with an 11.1- point fall to 3,901.4.

A variety of bearish influences eroded confidence. At first the strength of overseas markets and another clutch of cheerful economic comments seemed destined to push shares to new peaks.

But cautious futures trading and dwindling hopes of an early interest rate cut dampened enthusiasm, although a grudging acceptance of the latest trade figures and a strong New York opening combined to produce the firmer atmosphere at the close.

Hoare was not the only securities house to lower some of the recent high-flyers. UBS was the latest to hit Imperial Chemical Industries, cutting its forecast for last year from pounds 280m to pounds 270m. The shares fell 6p to 794p.

UBS also hit the electricities, pushing, for example, Midlands down 15p to 695p.

Kingfisher was an early victim of Smith New Court gloom. At one time shares were down 5p as the securities house fretted about Christmas trading, particularly at the Comet electrical division, and cut its forecast by pounds 7m to pounds 303m.

But as the session progressed, the feeling took hold that the market might have over-reacted to the Dixons-inspired caution and the shares ended 8p higher at 737p.

Taylor Woodrow fell 5p to 159p on SG Warburg comments and the Verdict Research report cut into supermarket shares. J Sainsbury fell 7p to 457p. BAT Industries gave up 8p to 555p as Hoare made negative noises.

Saatchi & Saatchi, the communications group, edged ahead 2p to 150p as Oakmark International, which emerged last week as a fan of troubled London International Group, lifted its shareholding to 9.64 per cent.

Like so many other US investment houses seeking UK stakes, Oakmark, a mutual fund, specialises in recovery situations.

Signet, the old Ratners, improved 3.5p to 31p on its Christmas trading statement and Whitbread's festive experience halved an early fall to 5p at 569p.

The drinks group, however, is a significant casualty of the cross- Channel 'booze cruisers'. Bass, where talk of a soft drink sale persists, fell 19p to 569p.

TSB, the banking group, rose 5p to 259p on Nomura support and First National Finance Corporation improved 4.5p to 69.5p on hopes that reduced losses will be announced tomorrow.

Wolseley, the building materials group, gained 25p to 895p as it embarked on a series of investment meetings. NatWest Securities lifted its forecast for this year from pounds 163.5m to pounds 170m.

NatWest helped lift Arjo Wiggins Appleton 8p higher to 254p, raising last year's forecast by pounds 5m to pounds 140m and this by pounds 30m to pounds 150m.

Tiphook, the container group, fell 6p to 72p on fears that its crucial deal with Transamerica would take some time to finalise. But some believe an announcement will be made this week with the terms not too far below the pounds 830m first signalled.

Insurances were a little uncertain, with the Australian bush fires and British floods causing concern.

Kunick, the amusement machine group, rose 1.75p to 13.75p on the plan to float its 50 per cent owned associate, the Goldsborough nursing homes business. The share sale should take place in the next few months.

Enviromed gained 9p to 143p on reports of a new diabetic treatment. Europe Energy advanced 3.5p to 28p as its reshaping was approved and Eidos, the video editing systems group, spurted 40p to 230p after touching 260p.

Civil engineer Donelon Tyson continued to benefit from the Morgan Stanley stake, gaining 2p to 23p.

The FT-SE 100 index slipped 5.4 points to 3,440.6 and the FT-SE 250 index 11.1 to 3,901.4. Turnover was 849.1 million shares from 45,771 bargains. The account ends on Friday with settlement on 24 January. Government stocks were mainly lower.

Coal Investments gained 7p to 45p after touching 49p. Charles Kernot, an analyst at Credit Lyonnais Laing, is keen on the shares, anticipating strong growth as the group expands its British coal-mining operations in the turmoil created by the privatisation of British Coal. The shares were 14p in November. Nearly 30 per cent is held by the financier Nicholas Berry.

Business Technology, the office equipment group, firmed 1.5p to 15.5p as the revamping exercise instituted by its former Securiguard chief, Alan Baldwin, gathers pace. The group has already sold one operation and made one acquisition under the Baldwin guidance. Another takeover is thought to be imminent. Yesterday shareholders approved the pounds 3.1m cash call.