MR. B. W. MASON, the retiring chairman of the Newrith Group, has given shareholders a confident statement in his report for the year ended March 31, 1964. The group's interests (mainly in the north-east of England) cover heating, ventilating, plumbing, glazing and elec- trical engineering, all supplying the booming building industry. Just over a year ago the plumbing and electrical engineering company of Elliott Paisley of Dundee was acquired for £204,000 in cash. On the merchanting side the group's interests extend to the retailing of kitchen equipment, including Aga Cookers. After a higher tax charge, the net profit of £46,790 compares with £32,891. A dividend of 12} per cent has been declared, which is covered by earnings of 21.2 per cent. The 2s. shares at 4s. 6d. yielding 5f per cent, look modestly priced, as I would expect even better results next year.
Quite a good year ended March 31, 1964, from United Gas Industries, with pre-tax profits up from £494,000 to £586,000 and the dividend up 24 per cent to 17f per cent (on the doubled capital), followed by a proposed one-for-six scrip issue. The company makes gas appliances and
meters; the latter forms the greater part of the business. The chairman, Mr. N. L. Smith, fore- casts a dividend of not less than 15 per cent on the enlarged capital. The company, through reorganisation, has made an excellent recovery over the past four years and if the dividend is maintained at 17f per cent, the 5s. shares at 22s. 6d. would yield 4.6 per cent, but on the scaled-down rate of 15 per cent the shares, yield- ing 3.9 per cent, look fully valued.
Another good year ended March 31, 1964, is reported by Mr. J. M. Webb, chairman of Joseph Webb and Co., the builders and estate developers. The company, which operates mainly in the southern counties and west of England, increased its pre-tax profits from £104,402 to £151,870, which included £23,000 from the two latest acquisitions, Evans Property and Elinore Investment and Property. The com- pany's land bank is valued at £394,000 and the chairman states that adequate building finance has been arranged for future projects. The in- terim dividend in January was increased from 10 per cent to 12f per cent; this is now followed by a final of 17f per cent against 15 per cent, making a total of 30 per cent. The Is. ordinary shares at 5s. 101d. yield 5.1 per cent.
The critics of the board of the Greyhound Racing Association Trust were more vociferous than usual at last week's annual general meet- ing. In fairness to the chairman, Sir Miles Graham, who was bombarded with questions for an hour, the company's problems are not so easily solved as some people suggest. The com- pany's hoped-for development of some of its properties has come up against planning consent, but there has been some success by diversifica- tion into the catering field. Betting shops are hitting greyhound racing hard and will continue to do so. The group appears to have £688,000 liquid resources for employment, which it should hasten to use, and from them a high rate of earnings should be obtained to offset the declin- ing revenue from its dog tracks. The Is. shares at 2s. 9d. yield 6.9 per cent on the 20 per cent dividend.
In our note on Fitch Lovell on July 31 the net profit for last year was wrongly reported. This passage should have read: 'Fitch Lovell ... report a net profit after tax of £1.2 million against £1.18 million.'