SHARES: Fallen wonder stock to bounce back

CITY TALK

FORMER wonder-stock Blenheim Group may be on the mend. Despite a further fall in pre-tax profits at the half-way stage, by 32 per cent to pounds 13.1m, the exhibition organiser may have reached the bottom of the downward spiral it has found itself in over the past few years.

New finance director John Hunt joins from stockbroker BZW, where he was vice-chairman of corporate finance. Losses in the French arm seem to be under control, while a cost-cutting programme is almost finished.

The upshot is a company that could be in reasonable shape to claw back some of the lost ground of the past two years, following a dismal series of profits warnings and missed forecasts.

The shares, at 238p, are well off their peak of pounds 5.93 reached in 1993. But recovery is in the wings. Buy.

WHEN it was relaunched in 1993, St James's Place Capital was one of those quiet but classy acts that attracted a strong fan club. But it has since slipped out of favour.

Jointly chaired by insurance grandee Sir Mark Weinberg and Lord Rothschild, the company specialises in life assurance and specialised fund man- agement. But stockbroker BZW reckons the good times could be back again and tips the shares as a buy. It says the fee the group earns for managing the quoted investment trust, RIT Capital Partners, looks set for strong growth this year. And despite good market conditions and an 8 per cent rise in the insurance sector, the shares have made little progress.

SHARES in mini-merchant bank Close Brothers have been a steady, if unspectacular, investment in the past. Friday is the closing date for its one-for-five rights issue to raise pounds 53.4m. Most of the funds are earmarked for the bank's rapidly growing loans book, currently worth pounds 492m, which represents a trebling in value over five years.

Some shareholders may have been put off by stories of all four executive directors not taking up their rights, despite cashing in options that netted them several million pounds in profits. But the shares were sold to Caledonia Investments, Close's largest shareholder.

After taking up its rights, its stake will rise to 25.1 per cent from 22.3 per cent. Given that vote of confidence, and a decent profits record, shareholders should take up their rights.

AT 100p, Clinton Cards is at its high for the year, after dropping as low as 70p in May. Nevertheless, that is still a long way off the 170p it stood at 18 months ago. But the group is aggressively developing new avenues of growth; the recent perkiness in the shares reflects improving confidence about its prospects.

In September, it bought 112 shops from Carlton Cards for pounds 3.25m, and Clinton chief executive Don Lewin is confident he can turn around the new acquisition's pounds 700,000 losses.

Last year, it bought the Hall of Cards chain, and it now has an 11 per cent market share - and almost all the specialist retail market.

There are fears Lewin may have bitten off more than he can chew, but the two chains fit well. Buy.

FLOATED at 108p last year, UPF has been a highly successful investment, with the shares now at 165p. The company claims to be Europe's leading producer of four-wheel-drive chassis frames and has just made its first foreign acquisition.

It will pay pounds 8.4m in cash for Bellino, a German metal pressings and fabrications company for the automotive industry. Bellino arose as an opportunity after its parent went into receivership in 1993. But the part UPF is buying makes a profit, with pounds 134,000 on sales of pounds 9.95m for the year to the end of 1994. Some pounds 2.8m of the purchase price will be goodwill.

Chief executive Keith Evans said the acquisition would provide the group with direct access to the big German automotive manufacturers, and the wider European marketplace. The shares still offer good value.

SHARES in Derwent Valley Holdings, a specialist investor in central London commercial property, were on the move after it announced an pounds 18.2m acquisition of 15 properties from the Co-operative Insurance Society. The deal was accompanied by a pounds 20.6m placing and an open offer at 275p a share. It is Derwent's fifth in two years, for a total of 30 properties, at a cost of pounds 100m. At 301p, expect further gains in the shares in the months ahead.

SELL is the verdict of broker Charles Stanley on blue-chip beerage stock Scottish & Newcastle. Its analyst reckons the deal with Courage is overrated. Although the Monopolies & Mergers Commission required only minimal undertakings, it is debatable if the deal will actually benefit the company. Closing capacity will see restructuring costs, and the company will probably have to lower beer prices to gain market share.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own