Optimistic Quarto sees 18p jump in share price

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The Independent Online
SHARES in Quarto, the illustrated book publisher, jumped 18p to 224p yesterday after Laurence Orbach, chairman, said that trading had picked up after elections in the US and Australia. Sales were also ahead in the UK.

Mr Orbach said: 'We have come through, relatively unscathed, the harshest year we have known. Orders in hand already exceed last year's total deliveries and first-quarter sales are 20 per cent higher.'

Quarto, which creates books on subjects such as cookery and painting to be sold under others' imprints, decided during 1992 to sacrifice market share in a drive to maintain profits.

Despite turning away less profitable sales, turnover was 12 per cent higher at pounds 39.4m. Pre-tax profits were down 6 per cent from pounds 4.1m to pounds 3.8m.

Profits were also hit by a pounds 160,000 exceptional charge to cover the costs of an aborted acquisition. Plans for the all-share offer for an unnamed target were shelved in the week before the general election, when the stock market fell on expectations of a Labour victory.

Mr Orbach said the failure of the deal was especially galling because the other company's gross margins were only half those of Quarto and it was very clear what could be done to improve its performance.

Earnings per share fell from 17.9p to 16.2p. A 3.3 per cent increase in the final dividend to 3.76p makes a total for the year of 5.37p against 5.25p.

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