21 OCTOBER 1972, Page 30


Wotherspool picks Hestair

Nephew Wilde

It is almost a status symbol for some people to hold shares. How often one hears old ladies discussing the performance of their investments and in such a way that one never knows if they hold £50 worth of stock or £100,000! Apart from the actual advantage of being able to talk about investments there is also for some the attraction of attending the annual general meeting. I once went to Tate & Lyle's gathering in a smart hotel in London. Never again! The hall was jam-packed with everyone anxiously awaiting the end of the formalities and adjournment to the bar (free champagne, of course). However, one did chap stood up before the assembly, talked for a very long time about the traditions of the company, and as everyone began to get noticeably restless he summoned all and sundry to stand and pay homage to the memory of the late chairman.

I believe that in their search to avoid confrontations with the occasional shareholder who might not be supine, indifferent or stupid, several of the major US corporations. such as Coca-Cola and Eastman Kodak, hold their annual meetings far away from the City in almost ..inaccessible. towns. It is, of course, the small shareholder who is so often shabbily treated by stockbrokers. I know that my broker, Wotherspool goes into a tantrum when he gets small orders. This attitude has, however, been tempered since he made his greatest faux pas by refusing to handle a transaction of £100 for a lady; she actually happened to be the wife of a chairman for whose large group Wotherspool's firm acted as brokers.

At least Wotherspool appreciates any interest in the market that I take, especially when conditions are dull. And so I put him on the hunt last week for a sound company in which to make a small investment. Well, eventually he contacted me saying that he had read glowing reports about Hestair.

This company has a wide spread of interest in environmental control vehicles including fire engines, agricultural equipment, photographic goods and industrial merchanting. It has a young board who have certainly injected a lot of life into Hestair. Shortly it is expected to make a further sizeable acquisition. Finances are sound and prospects exciting. I have sold part of my holding in Guthrie to buy in a stake in Hestair.