THE results from Great Universal Stores are really outstanding, with a 14} per cent in- crease in the trading profit at £351 million. This is the biggest increase in over a decade of un- broken growth. Net profits jumped from £13.15 million to £15.41 million, which gives an extra ten points on the cover at 74 per cent for the 35 per cent dividend which is to be paid against the previous rate of 31} per cent. It is again pro- posed to make a one-for-ten scrip issue in non- voting 5s. 'A' shares. This vast enterprise will be fully reviewed by the chairman, Sir Isaac Wolfson, at the annual general meeting. He de- scribes the company's mail-order business, which accounts for one-third of group sales, as the most dynamic and progressive form of retailing in the UK. Hire-purchase sales account for only 10 per cent of turnover. Interests outside the UK include a 75 per cent stake in the largest mail-order business in Holland and a stake in real estate in America. No portfolio is complete without a share in GUS. At 55s. 3d. the 5s. 'A' shares yield 3.3 per cent. I would fully expect the dividend to be at least maintained next year.
Mitre Trust almost doubled its profit for 1963 and raised the dividend from 16 per cent to 20 per cent. But a tax charge of £45,000 against £17,000 left the net profit only a little higher at £27,000 against £23,000. The increase in the trading profit was largely due to the good year experienced by the two subsidiaries making rain- wear and casual wear clothes. Other subsidiaries, which include engineering companies, a tea company in Ceylon and the Queens Hotel, Hastings, produced rather disappointing results. A high yield, should be expected from this small trust with its very mixed bag of investments. The £1 shares are 51s. 9d. to yield 7.7 per cent.
The chairman of Ozalid, makers of photo- copying equipment and suppliers of commercial and drawing-office equipment, looks forward to higher profits for 1964 and steady progress from year to year. Trading profits for 1963 at £1.6 million were £194,000 up on those of 1962, after a much higher charge'for research and develop- ment. This company has a fine record, and the future looks good with benefits to come from the merger with Block, Anderson and Kolok. From the net profit of £654,000 the dividend goes uP from 18 per cent to 20 per cent. The 5s. shares at 24s. 9d. yielding 4 per cent have good prospects.
Humphrey's the building and civil engineer- ing contractors, have done well to increase their trading profit from £135,000 to £181,000 for the year ended November 30, 1963. As forecast, since the capital was increased by a two-for-one rights issue, the dividend of 15 per cent has been maintained, but this is only just covered by net earnings. However, this cover should improve in the current year as there is a large increase in work in progress. The 5s. shares at 12s. 9d. are reasonably priced to give a good income return of 5.7 per cent.