The Investment column: Securicor

SO MUCH of Securicor's fortunes depends on its stake in Cellnet, the mobile telephone business in which it owns a 40 per cent stake, that it took some time yesterday for the market to wake up to the positive news in the group's interim results.

The shares fell 2p in early trading, but later added 6.5p to close at 556.5p. The market was braced for a poor contribution - pounds 26m as opposed to pounds 43m - from Cellnet following a recent presentation by BT.

The results marked another opportunity for the group to utter the usual array of platitudes about examining all options to enhance shareholder value when quizzed on the possible sale of the Cellnet stake.

More exciting is the progress in the core security, non-Cellnet communications and distribution divisions. The group has brought forward margin targets for the latter two after the security division hit them this year.

Meanwhile, the group said its distribution division's joint venture with Deutsche Post, established in March by the sale of 50 per cent of the division to the German group, had made more progress in three months than was expected in three years.

Analysts expect pounds 96m of post-exceptional pre-tax profits and earnings of 11.2p per share this year.

But, while Securicor's core business is looking impressive, until the Cellnet issue is resolved the shares are likely to remain volatile.

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