Market Report: Yamaichi finds Tomkins' diet hard to swallow

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BREAD and cakes could be causing acute indigestion at Tomkins, the aggressive engineering and guns conglomerate created by the ambitious Greg Hutchings.

The shares fell 11.5p to 230.5p in often busy trading as Yamaichi, the Japanese securities house, cast fresh doubts on last year's surprising takeover of the Ranks Hovis MacDougall food group.

Since the RHM deal Tomkins has underperformed the stock market by more than 20 per cent. Yamaichi's Ian Rennardson expects further relative weakness and suggests the shares should be sold.

He believes profits this year will climb from pounds 171m to pounds 244m and reach pounds 264m in the following year.

But he questions Tomkins' ability to wring much improvement from RHM, already blessed with some of the most up-to-date plant in what is a fiercely competitive industry.

Tomkins outbid Hanson, the conglomerate grandaddy, for RHM. As Mr Rennardson points out, if Hanson had swallowed the bread and cakes group it would have had little impact on its earnings. But RHM represents a much bigger addition to the Tomkins spread, representing 65 per cent of 1992 profits.

Mr Hutchings and his team have suggested that Tomkins' production and selling skills are equally responsive to food as they are to its basic, diverse engineering operations. But the thrust of the Yamaichi argument is that what is a new environment for Tomkins could prove far less rewarding than Tomkins envisaged.

The Tomkins decline occurred on a day in which the FT-SE 100 share index toyed with breaking through 3,000 points, but decided discretion was the better part of valour and settled for a gentle retreat to 2,971.6 points, down 14.8.

Futures selling, a weak New York opening and the price restraint agreed by the Government and the drugs industry were inhibiting influences. The unexpectedly weak BOC performance and profit warning was another depressant. BOC fell 63p to 651p.

But Glaxo Holdings, helped by a Hoare Govett buy recommendation, managed to edge ahead by 7.5p to 524p. Wellcome rose 5p to 659p.

Bardon, the aggregates group where takeover rumours have surfaced several times this year, rose 4p to 50p with the nil-paid rights 3.75p higher at 9.5p. Charter Consolidated remains the favourite to pounce.

Boardroom arrivals and departures influenced three shares. Confirmation that Michael Julien had become chairman of the holiday group Owners Abroad lifted the shares 10p to 77p. Mr Julien helped to fuel the excitement, buying 30,000 shares at 74p.

Maurice Dixon's departure from General Electric Co to become chief executive of Simon Engineering prompted an 11p gain to 62p. GEC was little changed at 349p. The surprise resignation of its finance director, John Walmsley, lowered Enterprise Oil 12p to 439p.

Inchcape, the international trading group, had a difficult session, falling 21p to 542p. Large lines of stock are said to be on offer. There was also talk of a bid soon for Gestetner, where Inchcape has a 37.54 per cent interest. The office equipment group rose 7.5p to 136p.

British Gas put on 5p to 314.5p on hopes it has won the break-up argument. Whitbread 'A' fell 4.5p to 515.5p despite Tesco's decision to discontinue importing Stella Artois lager from France and cutting the price by up to 25 per cent. Whitbread is the UK brewer and distributor of the Belgian lager.

Transfer Technology tumbled 39p to 484p on yesterday's Bottom Line comment. Reuters, following the decision of the London International Financial Futures and Options Exchange (Liffe) not to use the Globex trading system, fell 24p to 1,524p.

British Airways responded to the news of lower profits with a 14.5p gain to 350p. There was switching from BAA, down 9p at 797p.

Banks gave ground with SG Warburg making negative noises. Lloyds fell 12p to 534p.

British Land held at 358p. A line of 1 million shares was placed at 356p.

Fortune Oil, formerly Blackland Oil, touched 5p, closing at 4.25p. Bakyrchik Gold, Monday's newcomer, held much of its premium, closing 1p down at 145p.

Pegasus, the computer software supplier, held at 174p. The stockbroker Greig Middleton likes the shares. Profits are forecast at pounds 900,000 this year with pounds 1.5m next.

The group has experienced boardroom turmoil but has a healthy cash balance. GM points out that from the start of this month the Deluxe Corporation has the right to buy Pegasus's 75 per cent interest in Business Forms which could be worth pounds 6m.

Although the FT-SE 100 index paused, the second line FT-SE 250 index continued its record run, closing 7.4 points higher at 3,406.8. Turnover was 771.9 million shares with 37,682 bargains. The account ends on Friday. The Gilts September futures contract reached a peak.

Glenchewton, the old Cowan de Groot toys business, was steady at 29p. Marlowe Holdings, a US electrical group, has sold its 15.45 per cent interest with Carr Kitcat & Aitken placing most of the shares at 26p. Marlowe's departure follows the arrival of a group that includes former British & Commonwealth chief, John Gunn. It acquired 35.6 per cent of the capital at 19p a share last month.

Waterglade International, the struggling property group, seems to be attracting some intriguing overseas support. The shares rose 0.5p to 3p. Last month Waterglade surprised when it suddenly abandoned its plan to replace the board of Seafield, an Irish property and transport group. But some believe Waterglade has not lost interest in Seafield, where it has 11.1 per cent, and developments are likely.

Excalibur, the engineering and jewellery group, continues to attract interest. There is talk that one big shareholder has been approached for its stake at 23p against a market price of 18.5p. In May Excalibur, which suffered an interim loss, said takeover talks with an unidentified party had ended. Its shareholders include Suter, the acquisitive conglomerate, with 5.9 per cent.