The Investment column: Some cheer from Park
Saturday 25 January 1997
That was followed up by the failure of talks between HSL's founder, Stuart Marks, and Mr Johnson for a takeover of the whole group. Mr Marks and two of his fellow HSL directors were ousted in October, but Mr Johnson's troubles did not end there: Everton, which he also chairs and controls, has just racked up five defeats in a row.
Yesterday, however, he had something to cheer about, when Park reported a pre-tax deficit cut from pounds 5.71m to pounds 5.23m in the traditionally loss- making first half to September. The shares, down from a 1994 peak of 140p, ended 5.5p ahead at 55p.
The better sentiment had less to do with the figures and more with the prospects. Park's main business of Christmas hampers, paid for through weekly savings schemes, is about as seasonal as you can get, but the latest season was a good one. Sales of hampers and Park's high street gift vouchers operation recovered to over pounds 100m from pounds 94m the previous year, when the business was hit by the National Lottery. Cash deposits by customers peaked at a record pounds 80m in November and the omens are for more of the same. Based on orders taken since November, turnover is on course for another 6 to 7 per cent rise this Christmas.
Park's expertise is in wringing more from its existing 1 million-strong customer base than any growth in the market. The average weekly spend has gone up from pounds 4 to about pounds 5, but the spice should come from newer businesses. HSL, for which Park paid pounds 9.3m in 1993, has not proved a good buy, although it appears to be on the mend. Analysts expect full- year profits of pounds 1m, up from pounds 330,000 last time, but half the level of two years ago.
More risky is the venture into reconstituted flavoured chips, DJ Spuddles Gourmet Fries, to be launched next week when a new plant opens. Mr Johnson is confident that pounds 4m investment will contribute next year, but it is anyone's guess how much.
Granville Davies is looking for Park to produce same-again profits of pounds 9.5m this year, for a forward multiple of 14. High enough.
- 1 This restaurant has misunderstood the concept of 'cheese and biscuits'
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 3 Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
- 4 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 5 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
Delhi bus rapist blames dead victim for attack because 'girls are responsible for rape'
PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
Spiritual leader allegedly manipulated 400 men into removing testicles to be 'closer to God'
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
iJobs Money & Business
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...
£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...
£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...