The Investment Column: M&C books in a 30% profits rise

INVESTORS who booked into Millennium & Copthorne when it floated nearly two years ago have had a very happy stay. In that time the shares have risen more than 80 per cent. Yesterday it showed it had been able to shake off the effects of the strong pound and the Asian crisis on the British tourist market by announcing a 32 per cent rise in 1997 pre- tax profits to pounds 50.2m, causing the shares to rise another 19p to 508.5p.

Last year some analysts were concerned that the hotel boom would soon run out of steam. In London the prospect of 10,000 new rooms threatened to swamp the market. But while it is true the market will struggle to maintain the heady growth levels of the last few years, there are still no signs of the huge increase in hotel capacity that caused the industry's downfall in the late 1980s. And the millennium celebrations will give the sector a further boost next year.

Not that M&C has to rely on the hotel cycle for further growth. Typically, the group is getting a 15 per cent return from its refurbishment programme within 12 months. Its move into conferencing and the business market is a successful strategy and a tight control on costs is continuing to help margins.

However, M&C will find it harder to increase occupancy rates, which are already very strong. To maintain its growth rate into the next century it will have to look for acquisitions. It is eyeing up targets in Europe and North America. Both its Millennium four star hotels and Copthorne mid-market brands have great potential overseas. But any sizeable deal would probably require the group to issue new equity.

Charterhouse Tilney forecasts current year profits of pounds 59.5m putting the shares on a prospective p/e ratio of 17. It is not time to check out of the shares. Under the new leadership of John Wilson, the highly respected former head of Hilton International, the group promises much. But at this price there is little room for disappointment and the stock looks about right for now.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Finance Officer

Negotiable: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education are seeking a Fi...

Accounts Payable

£12 - £15 per hour: Cameron Kennedy Recruitment: Excellent opportunity to join...

Technical BA - Banking - Bristol - £400pd

£400 per hour: Orgtel: Technical Business Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £400pd...

Account Management Strategy Manager

£38000 - £42000 per annum + competitive: Real Staffing: Required skills:Previo...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice