The Investment Column: Eurotherm ready to grow again

Don't tell Eurotherm's shareholders, but the strong pound could be a blessing in disguise. Pre-tax profits down 20 per cent this year and a 44 per cent share price slump since early 1996 hardly suggest the controls maker is thriving.

But, under pressure from currencies, chief executive Claes Hultman has come up with new ways of achieving growth. There's no fat to cut, so instead he's weeded out weak products and introduced a new range of temperature controls. In a UK market where orders fell by up to a third, Eurotherm increased sales.

Provided the pound stays put, Eurotherm looks ready to grow again. To regain its darling status, however, it needs to boost its presence in the US and Asia. A war chest of up to pounds 100m could provide that, as could a joint venture.

But until the group clinches a deal the shares - up 7p to 363.5p and on a forward PE ratio of 14 - are no more than a hold.

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