Upton to build on the rights stuff

CITY TALK

EXPECT North-east department store group Upton & Southern (1.75p) to launch a pounds 1m rights issue this week, as new-broom chairman Ron Trenter seeks to beef up the company's finances after the ill-fated acquisition and subsequent receivership of the Reject Shop.

The remaining three stores are profitable and have boosted sales by around 5 per cent during the summer.

MICE GROUP, whose name seems to owe more to its stock market value of pounds 5m and a share price of 3.25p than its exhibition and museum business, could be transformed by a big overseas acquisition shortly. Tomorrow, it will report its first-ever interim profit of around pounds 60,000.

With a strong bias towards second-half exhibitions, that puts Mice on course for full-year profits of pounds 750,000, against pounds 470,000 in 1994.

SHAREHOLDERS in engineering group Haden MacLellan have been to hell and back.

A radical restructuring instigated by the new management, and a two-year pounds 80m contract with Land Rover for a paint shop facility, have helped to revive its fortunes. Encouraged by the company's recent interim results, Birmingham broker Albert E Sharp has raised its forecast of pre-tax profits to pounds 11m from pounds 9.7m for this calendar year, with pounds 13m (pounds 11.5m) pencilled in for 1996.

Despite a strong recovery, the shares (83p) have further to run on a prospective p/e ratio of 13 falling to less than 11.

ALTHOUGH cable television subscriber numbers are below expectations, broker NatWest is satisfied with General Cable's recent set of interim figures.

In particular, the company's telephone-led philosophy is being endorsed - telecoms revenues now represent more than two-thirds of group business and line growth has been achieved without heavy discounting. Pre-tax profits are still at least four years off, but NatWest thinks General Cable (195p) is the least risky and offers the best value in the sector, based on its share price valuation of between 220p and 250p.

SCOT FM, the start-up radio station owned by Channel 3 franchise holder Grampian TV, has signed an exclusive two-year contract with the Scottish Football League. The estimated pounds 150,000 a year deal is good news in advertising terms for Scot FM, which has had its teething problems. The deal adds to the attractions of Grampian, whose recent decision to enfranchise its non-voting 'A' shares may revive bid interest from Scottish Television. On broker Bell Lawrie White's forecasts, the shares still look attractive at 202p on a prospective PE ratio in the high teens. Buy.

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