12 AUGUST 1972, Page 19

Account gamble

Good prospects

John Bull

I am sure that if a Gallup Poll were taken to see which housewives had the most sleepless nights it would show them to be the spouses of stock market speculators. And over the last few weeks they could hardly have slept a wink.

Two conflicting forces continue to create the current confusion. First, industrialists and economists point clearly to an economic revival — and their fundamental case can hardly be disputed. Secondly. however, there is that vital cog in the whole industrial machine, that of labour. The stock market swings like a seesaw as the reports from the former grow more optimistic and, from the latter, increasingly bleak.

The punter, of course, has to stick his neck out and decide which path to take. And I myself feel that, though the market might be depressed after last week's spate of buying interests, by the end of the month more certainty will have been established on the industrial front.

It so happens that Mather and Platt's results are due on the last day of August and I am confident that the forecast for the rest of the year will be above the market's expectations.

In his annual statement in April, Sir William Mather, the chairman, said that the group was budgeting for further improvements in the current year. Last time, for the twelve months to March 18, Mather and Platt's profits rose from £2.21 to £2.63 million and an indication of confidence was the lifting of the dividend from 11.2 per cent to 12.4 per cent.

The increase in profits was mainly due to successful reorganisation, and there was still surplus capacity to cope with an upturn in trade. Meanwhile overseas subsidiaries showed little change.

The one thing that I feel has depressed the shares to their current level of 84p, is that labour trouble which Mather and Platt faced earlier in the year.

This could upset UK profits but I feel the effects of devaluation will have benefitted the overseas activities.

Certainly if Glynwed's performance is any indication of the market's attitude towards a UK industrial group then Mather and Platt shares should be worth buying.

Glynwed, incidentally, now stand at 215p against the price of 200p when I recommended them last week.