Shares: Kenwood in a spin over sell-off

Kenwood Appliances (210p), after a dismal share price performance since its flotation in 1992, may come good, if only because of the emergence of the UK Active Value fund, which wants the group to put itself up for sale.

An informal approach from Pifco also provided a fillip for the shares, but Kenwood is determined to resist any such overtures, until "a firm and credible offer has been put forward". An extraordinary meeting on Monday is likely to see off the rebels, but Kenwood will have to work hard if it is going to address shareholders' longer-term concerns, after interim profits fell from pounds 7.4m to pounds 3.3m. But for the time being, the shares are best avoided.

Vardon, after a difficult spell, has begun to swing back into favour, with analysts positive after a visit to its health and fitness division, offsetting the gloom following disappointing trading at the Sea Life centres last year.

Down from a high of 135p in April, the shares have been edging back, helped by a positive second-half trading statement. At 95p, they now look cheap against the sector, and are a long-term buy.

The fizz has gone out of Cadbury Schweppes, the company carrying the flag for British hopes in the international soft drinks sector, and taking on the likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the process. While the shares have proved a decent proxy for the market over the last six years, recent underperformance once again highlights the risks in its strategy. Granted its Dr Pepper/7- Up acquisition has taken Cadbury's on to the world stage. But at what cost? And the decision to sell its CCSB joint venture bottling business to its partner Coca-Cola, improves its gearing. But the strategy set by Coke and Pepsi, is to own the bottling for their beverages. The move has raised fears in the City that Cadbury will be unable to exert enough control over its business, when it relies on external bottlers, especially in the US. Meanwhile, 7-Up is in a gruelling head-to-head with Coke's Sprite.

Either way, hopes of strong growth look misplaced for now. The shares are still way above their two year lows - time to take the profits.

ASTEC (156p) is something of a City curiosity, a Hong Kong-based company quoted in London. But the electronic components group, with a large proportion of sales to computer makers, has been a superb investment. At its last interims, the group, valued at pounds 500m, pushed six-month profits up 32 per cent to pounds 13.1m.

The company sits on a pounds 38m cash pile, and is wondering what to do with it. A special dividend is unlikely, because of its 49 per cent owner Emerson, the US concern. But a bid cannot be ruled out, and in the meantime, the company should continue to motor. Buy.

Fountain Forestry will be an AIM tiddler when dealings commence on 19 December. Priced at 75p a share, the company, which offers forestry management services to private and corporate landowners, utilities and local authorities throughout the UK and on the north-eastern seaboard of the US, will be valued at pounds 6.6m.

Fountain Forestry will receive pounds 1.2m from the placing. The company announced full-year figures, to show sales up 25.3 per cent to pounds 18.8m. Profit before tax increased 12.6 per cent to pounds 723,000.

While margins are slender, and forestry is hardly the sort of business to suggest startling growth prospects, it has the advantage of offering safety in dullness.

Division Group has had a lacklustre performance since it came to the market in 1993, and the shares now trade at 52.5p, down from the 70p issue price. But the company could be finding its way out of the dark. Its virtual reality software for industrial customers is being touted as some of the best available. Computer-aided design vendors EDS Unigraphics, and Computervision, want to embed Division's products in their own systems, although the full impact from this is unlikely to be felt until 1998.

The company may also represent a tempting morsel for another company wanting to enter the less speculative end of virtual reality. A tentative buy.


Interims: Crest Packaging, Gibbs Mew, Howden Group, Jasmin, MFI Furniture.

Finals: Burndene Investments, Hunters Armley.


Statistics: November Public Sector Borrowing Requirement.

Interims: Mondas.

Finals: Chemex International, Eurotherm, Goldsborough Healthcare, Kunick, Securicor, Vaux Group.


Statistics: November retail sales, November unemployment, October average earnings, unit wage costs.

Finals: Dawson Hldgs, Freepages.


Statistics: November provisional M4, November vehicle production, November major banking groups' monthly statement.

Interims: Acatos & Hutcheson, Asda, Jones & Shipman.

Finals: Warner Estates.


Statistics: Final Q3 GDP, Q3 Balance of Payments.

Interims: Forminster, Meconic.

Finals: Kelsey Industries.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Morrissey pictured in 2013
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

1st Line Support Technician / Application Support

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider of web based m...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Accountant / Assistant Management Accountant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an Assistant Management Ac...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices