The Investment Column: C Salvesen

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The Independent Online
COULD CHRISTIAN Salvesen, the logistics group, be in danger of becoming an interesting company? Trucking fruit, veg and widgets around is not an exciting business, and Christian Salvesen has done it less well than others in the past. But while turnover - stripping out the acquisition of Gerposa, a Spanish logistics company - in both its food and industrial divisions was down last year, Edward Roderick, chief executive says his troubled markets have stabilised.

What's more, Christian Salvesen is attracting plaudits for its skill in utilising capacity to the max by stuffing several customers' goods into the same lorry. That's helped it maintain margins in the UK despite price deflation in supermarket retailing. And while customers of the group's industrial businesses are being hammered by the strong pound, its market share here has grown.

On the downside, the group posted a pounds 1m exceptional cost for delays in opening a new frozen food facility. German retailers are taking more of their logistics work in house to sweat their employees better. Mr Roderick also faces stiff competition from the likes of Hays and NFC in his plan to acquire more assets on the European mainland.

On analysts' expectations of pounds 40m pre-tax profits and earnings of 10.2p per share, the shares, at 123.5p, trade on at a forward multiple of 12. That's not cheap enough to make the group interesting.