14 JULY 1961, Page 26

Company Notes

THERE has been a good recovery in the 1960 trading profits of British and Commonwealth Shipping from the low point reached in 1959. These have risen to £7,633,312 from £6,011,814. The net profit of £1,897,268 provides good cover for the maintained dividend of 20 per cent. The company incorporates Clan Line Steamers and Union Castle Mail Steamship Co. The newest passenger ship, the 38,000-ton liner Windsor Castle, came into commission last year, together with two new cargo ships, whilst six old vessels were taken out of service. The continuous modernisation of the fleet (now exceeding ninety vessels)—as much as £124 million was spent last year—will considerably strengthen the company's position to compete in the still very difficult shipping market. The two main operating sub- sidiaries do a large trade with South and East Africa; it will therefore be particularly interest- ing to hear from the chairman, Sir W. Nicholas Cayzer, as to their future prospects. Allowing credit for large investment allowances, which should continue, earnings of 92.7 per cent, give a very good cushion for the dividend. The 10s. ordinary shares at 36s. 6d. yield 5+ per cent. and should be held.

Mr. Basil M. Mavroleon, chairman and managing director of London and Overseas Freighters, brings unusual but welcome news to shareholders. It is that over the next three to four years nine of the company's twelve tankers will be chartered to the Soviet oil organisa- tion. This stroke of business has probably saved the company from disaster as it was known that the majority of the fleet's charters had run out. Two tankers were launched last year and arrange- ments are being made for the substitution of three dry-cargo ships for the other three tankers on order. The pre-tax profits for the year to March 31, 1961, fell very sharply from £1,667,486 to £307,425. The issued capital is now £71 million, but £44 million of this is designated 'restricted' and does not rank for dividend until 1964 at the earliest. The 17+ per cent, dividend to be paid on the unrestricted capital is covered by earnings. It is hoped that the chairman will be able to estimate this year's trading profit and perhaps indicate if this dividend will be main- tained. If so, the 5s. ordinary shares at I Is. 6d, would be attractive, yielding 7.6 per cent.

The reduction in the trading profit for the year ended March 31, 1961, of Midland Tar Distillers was mostly due to the fact that the company has spent considerable sums on re- search and development. The benefit from this expenditure should begin to be felt, iays the chairman, Mr. R. B. Robinson, in 1962-63. He also advises that in spite of rulings against the company by the Restrictive Practices Court in regard to their sales arrangements of Phenol, the sales of this product have been very good, and the company is building up a useful export business with the US. The net profit was £190,690 against £206,805. Future capital com- mitments amount to approximately £4 million and short-term loans appear in the balance sheet at £445,000. The dividend of 124 per cent. is being maintained on the El ordinary shares which at 53s. 9d. yield 4.7 per cent.

Since the last accounts of Kulim Rubber Plantations the issued capital has been consider- ably increased and now stands at £1,328,093 ill 2s, ordinary shares. Four wholly-owned subsid- iary companies have been acquired and since December, 1960, the purchase of the Ula Ara Estate has been completed. The Tong Hing Estate was sold for £426,193 in cash and shares to Anglo Asian Rubber Plantations. Rubber croP sales for 1960 amounted to 14,446,000 lb at an average price of 33.99d. per lb. A most inter- esting fact (reported last year in the press) is that mining operations for iron ore will begin this month on one of the group's Kedah estates, for which a minimum royalty of £53,000 will he received. Further information concerning this important addition to the company's interests and an up-to-date picture of current prospects will be given by the chairman, Mr. P. B. L. Coghlan, at the annual general meeting on JulY 21. The trading profit of the group for the eighteen-month period was £436,799. A first interim dividend of 74 per cent, was paid on £327,975 of capital and two further dividends of 10 per cent. and 15 per cent. werepaid on the present capital. The 2s. ordinary shares at 3s. 6d. yield 12.4 per cent.