22 DECEMBER 1939, Page 33

OIL PROFITS IN WAR How are the oil companies faring

in war conditions? Many investors must be seeking the answer to this question, but it is not easy to find. Here is Apex (Trinidad) showing a net profit of £256,049, against 4315554, accompanied by a reduction in the final dividend from 27-1- to i71 per cent. This means a total dividend of 3o per cent., against 4o per cent., which, although it has been influenced considerably by heavier taxation, is not exactly encouraging to shareholders who were looking for prosperity. These figures, it is true, cover the year to September 3oth, which includes only one month of war. They may therefore be misleading as a guide to war-time earnings. What one would like to know is the terms on which the company's oil is now being marketed, and especially whether, allowing for the petrol-rationing in this country, increases in freights, taxation, &c., any net advantage will accrue from the sub- stantial rise in the world oil price-level. The market's immediate reaction to the cut in the dividend has been to lower Apex (Trinidad) 5s. shares from 26s. 9d. to 26s. At this price the yield is roughly 6 per cent. The shares should be worth holding.