Despite their best efforts Harold Wilson, Ted Heath, Kinnock, Blair, Old Uncle Tom Cameron and all did not manage to destroy completely the UK’s industrial base.It is still there, even if there were times when it looked like they may succeed and even if it is limited to the Barnsley- Sheffield triangle and a couple of Welsh valleys.
Firstly, Hargreaves Services (HSP) – Hargreaves, a name from the north, a name full of grit and determination. With a name like that it has to be in coal and steel and it is, at least for the next year or two. As with most things from the north it has fallen on hard times and has just slashed its interim dividend by 83% from 10p to a miserable 1.7p.
As if that were not enough, like for like profit before tax for the 6 months to 31st January is down by 94.7% and like for like revenue by 50.2%, all due to the widely reported pressures in the UK coal and steel markets.
Hargreaves however has a cunning plan, or two. Firstly it has built itself a range of exciting opportunities with its extensive property portfolio and over the next eighteen months it will be reducing further its exposure to steel and thermal coal.
The share price has naturally not been well and has lost 75% of its value, from a high of 886p, almost two years ago to the day, to its present 215p, which includes a 9% fall this morning.
Now for the modern. Pendragon (PDG) is not just the UK’s largest automotive retailer, it is its largest online automotive retailer and you can not get more modern than that.
Pendragon’s final dividend for the year to 31st December is being raised by 44% after another record breaking year, in which profit before tax rose by 22.3% and earnings per share by 19.4%. Despite that, its share price is well down, having fallen with some speed from a January high of 49p to 37p which includes a rise of a penny this morning. It just goes to show there is no pleasing those city chaps.