Pearson analyst presentation: analysts' meeting. Sample containing about 6363 words speech recorded in business context

9 speakers recorded by respondent number C446

PS302 X m (Michael, age unknown) unspecified
PS303 X m (Frank, age unknown, chief executive) unspecified
PS304 X m (James, age unknown, financial director) unspecified
PS305 X m (David, age unknown) unspecified
PS306 X m (Mark, age unknown) unspecified
PS307 X m (Mark, age unknown) unspecified
HYFPS000 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
HYFPSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
HYFPSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 104701 recorded on 1993-09-03. LocationUnknown () Activity: analysts meeting speech

Undivided text

Michael (PS302) [1] Good morning everyone, and welcome to Pearson's first half results.
[2] One way or another we've had a pretty busy six months.
[3] As you know we've decided to concentrate our management and financial resources on our media interests, which cover the information, education and entertainment markets and in which our spread of businesses including books, newspapers, family attractions and television are well placed for future growth.
[4] In June we acquired Thames Television, with its valuable programme rights, distribution business and production capability.
[5] And we have a crack at Star T V.
[6] The plans we announced on twenty seventh July to demerge Doulton and float Camco are already underway.
[7] Until such time as they leave the group, figures from these two businesses obviously continue to form part of our accounts.
[8] I'm pleased to say that in the course of the last six months we've seen a strong recovery in profits.
[9] So, let's now look at the results.
[10] Overall our nineteen ninety three first half pre-tax profits stand at forty six million for all our businesses including Doulton and Camco.
[11] That's nearly twelve million better than for nineteen ninety two and reflects its satisfying improvement in underlying performance.
[12] Sales were up by nineteen percent and there's also firm evidence in these results of margin improvements which reflect, for the first time, the full benefit of our cost cutting measures taken over the last three years.
[13] We've become better at making money in sluggish trading conditions and are making the most of the patchy recovery we've seen in some of our markets.
[14] Our overall operating profit has increased by some seventy percent over the same period last year.
[15] The difference between operating profit and profit before tax is of course made up of interest on non-operating items.
[16] James will cover er, this area in more detail later in the presentation.
[17] Earnings per share are up er, more than forty percent over the same period last year and when the E P S is adjusted to take account of the non-operating items, the figure has increased by nearly ninety percent.
[18] We said on twenty seventh July that we planned to pay an unchanged dividend for the full year.
[19] Accordingly, the board has declared an unchanged interim dividend of five point three seven five P per share.
[20] Altogether then er, an encouraging set of results and I'll hand you over to Frank to take us through them in more detail.
Frank (PS303) [21] Good morning everyone.
[22] Well, as you can see from that slide, a much better first half with four of our, four out of six of our businesses getting brownie points, especially newspapers and the merchant banking.
[23] And there are good reasons why the other two are as they are, and I'll explain that in due course.
[24] So, I'll start with the book businesses.
[25] Book sales show a, a nice increase in er, in sales revenue, especially in the U K, which is up seventeen percent overall.
[26] Penguin U K is gaining sale and market share and in North America the sales are only slightly down on last year, which was a very exceptional year anyway.
[27] Longman did particularly well in the U K, although coeternal markets were difficult and er, sales in the schools markets in er, North America was hard going for Addison Wesley, with U S physical problems restricting the,amou money that schools had to er, had to use.
[28] But we did particularly well in colleges.
[29] Moving to profits for the book companies, these are slightly down, but this isn't indicative of a full year and the general outlook is er, is good.
[30] The Penguin profits pattern followed the sales pattern, that is to say an increase in the U K more than offsetting er, a decline in the U S.
[31] Longman had a very, very er, very good increase in profits and the Addison Wesley loss, which is bigger in the first half than usual er, isn't something that bothers me particularly, I'm really quite relaxed about full year performance, but just to make sure they're er, attacking erm, expenses, travel, administration, that kind ... but nothing in the erm, book investment programme.
[32] Newspapers, apart from Les Echo erm, advertisement volumes were pretty flat.
[33] Les Echo managed a nice increase in financial advertising, but elsewhere volumes were flat erm, and so the revenue increased has depended on er, rate increases, changes in the mix or circulation revenue, with a mixture of cover price increases and some increases in circulation.
[34] Profits are well up, cost reduction obviously played a major part in this and the F T group is er, fifty five percent up on last year and this is against the background of a five percent drop in advertisement volume and we have an eleven percent drop in advertisement volume from the continent of Europe erm, which of course doesn't affect other national newspapers.
[35] The Economist and Les Echo both recorded record circulations once again, and Recolleters that's our partnership in Spain, as you will recall er, their profits continued to buck the trends in a very tough market.
[36] The Westminster Press cost budget is now adjusted and they're currently trading at a nine percent margin which would be ten percent if it wasn't for the er, expenditure on er, Yorkshire on Sunday er, the circulation of which is growing very nicely.
[37] Er, and I expect that margin to continue rising and be much higher again next year, so the medicine is working there.
[38] Entertainment, we divide our entertainment into two parts, television and attractions.
[39] So starting with television, we said at the er, announcement of the Doulton, Camco demerger that we intended to develop further in the visual media, and so we are setting up a T D, T V division in which we'll place all of our T V interests, at present just Thames, the investment in B Sky B and er, Yorkshire Tyne Tees, but watch this space, we e we intend to add to this er, division.
[40] Now, obviously I'm not going to talk about profits from the T V division just now, because Thames only came in at the half year, and we're not including any profits from B Sky B in the half year, but it's likely that we'll take some de-loan stock interest in at the year end.
[41] Attractions ... they've produced a very commendable rise in revenue and profits er, from the Tussaud group, although as you will recall most of the profits in the group come in July and August.
[42] But despite the recession there was an exceptional increase in attendances.
[43] Marylebone Road was up by eight point two percent, Rock Circus attendances were up by twenty eight percent and Chessington twenty one percent.
[44] Even at White Castle and Alton Towers, both of which recorded record attendances last year, they were up by fourteen percent and sixteen percent respectively.
[45] And we achieved an increase in the spend per head, so the Tussaud group is a real tale of success.
[46] Let's now turn to the non-media businesses.
[47] Starting with Camco, the newly appointed Chief Executive er, has been very, very active and has made a great impact already.
[48] Even the products division which has been a long time drag on profitability improved its performance, and [...] was well up too.
[49] The overall excellent improvement in first half performance is masked by a technical transfer last year, which of course isn't repeated this year and this year a provision of, formerly in pounds following the settlement of a civil anti-trust suit.
[50] Er, I make a point of never saying I told you so, but we did expect the upturn to come, because fundamentally stru er, Camco is a strong business.
[51] Fine china ... sales have improved but the profit hasn't and this needs some explanation.
[52] We've been incurring costs on two fronts, redundancy and also reducing factory stocks, short time working and this has brought down margins and profits, but the cash flow's improving and despite poor conditions in Europe and Japan er, volume and unit value of orders is er, increasing slowly.
[53] That brings us to investment banking and I'll leave you here since er, James our, James financial director's the director of Lazzards and he's gonna go through the Pearson financials.
[54] He er, he will cope with Lazzards at the same time, so James, over to you.
James (PS304) [55] Thank you Frank.
[56] Well, it's been a good half year for investment banking.
[57] Just to remind you er, we have a fifty percent interest in Lazzard brothers and a ten percent interest in the New York and Paris partnerships.
[58] In New York er, most of you will be well aware that the I P O and market remains extraordinarily healthy and there have been therefore er, excellent opportunities for securities, profits and erm, therefore New York had its best first half ever.
[59] I i in London there's been a good improvement across the board, a much healthier corporate finance climate and Lazzards has er, been pretty prominent in the rights issues in the first half of the year.
[60] If we then go back to er, look at the profits as a whole, there are just three items I'd like to comment on, the corporate expenses as other income er, has obviously had a dramatic improvement.
[61] This reflects, effectively, the sale of another [...] of our shares in Cedar Fayre The profit on sale of fixed assets comes right down, as you again er, I think all know, we've had the benefit of our last [...] of [...] shares and we're actually rather pleasantly surprised that we were able to er, sell some land at Lakeside to CostCo, which is why we have some profit of three million er, for the first half of ninety three.
[62] Change in the interest charge reflects no more than the impact of the stronger dollar on our U S dollar interest costs.
[63] Going on down er, the profit and loss account, the tax charge er, is lower as a percentage than it was this time last year.
[64] This time last year we actually were a little too conservative.
[65] We normally try and estimate the full year tax charge and then apply it to six months and we got it wrong.
[66] Further point has helped er, keep the tax charge well down in ninety three, is that the, there is no tax on the non-operating items, they're tax free effectively, whereas that wasn't true a year ago.
[67] As a result, adjusted earnings are up very helpfully as you can see.
[68] If I can turn to the balance sheet, it's a little more complicated, we're in a rather odd position at the thirtieth of June of incorporating the Thames er, balance sheet because our offer went unconditional.
[69] We haven't paid for it and therefore er, we er, you see a rather large item for provisions and minorities, that includes the ninety nine million consideration that er, went out of the door in July, as well, of course , as the substantial provisions that Thames made, in their own accounts for their property leases and for er, potential losses on the disposal of Reeves their West Coast, U S production company.
[70] They erm, the Thames investment in Astra is er, another reason for, in fact the principal reason for the increase in associates and investments, working capital is a simple, a seasonal outflow which has been, again [...] by the stronger dollar and the reduction in shareholders funds compared with the thirty first of December er, reflects the eighty six million pound good will write off on Thames.
[71] Net debt as you can see er, from the next slide and indeed it was in the balance sheet er, it was a hundred and seventy million against a hundred and eighty five on thirtieth of June.
[72] Erm, that isn't an entirely accurate reflection on our performance er, there are two factors.
[73] Er, we've flattened the one hand by the inclusion of Thames' own cash of twenty seven million, but on a year and year comparison the erm, the dollar, the sterling value of our dollar debt was fifty two million pounds higher, so in fact we have reduced net debt on, at an operating level year on year.
[74] The other feature, I think, of the debt that's worth drawing your attention to is a sharp shift towards variable debt compared to a year ago, a number of our swaps have matured, we've put one new one in er, some of our medium term notes have matured in the, in the States and we're at last in a position to take more advantage of er, lower, short term variable interest rates than we were.
[75] With that I'll hand you back to Michael .
Michael (PS302) [76] We'd now like to take questions.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [77] Erm, I was wondering if you'd perhaps like to tell us how you're going to manage your er, your [...] .
Michael (PS302) [78] Well, I think Frank mentioned er, that we were forming a T V division and I think, Frank you might like to say more.
Frank (PS303) [79] Well we'll, we'll set that up with a board of its own erm, as an operating board and each of our divisions has an operating board erm, and that means it will have a finance director, it will have, and it will have a Chief Executive er, and there'll be one or two other people on that board, such as er, Mark , Development Director er, and er, we'll go from there.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [80] Can you give some idea as to what the er, can you give some idea as to what the underlying sales growth was in the first half?
[81] You've got the nineteen percent and, as the statement says, there was some degree of benefit from currency.
[82] What was the underlying?
Michael (PS302) [83] James, can you give that accurate?
James (PS304) [84] [...] .
[85] Absolutely.
[86] Sales er, of their hundred and thirty million increase in sales erm, seventy seven million exchange, fifty two million er, underlying [...] .
Michael (PS302) [87] Yes?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [88] Could you break down the profit of the F T group between Les Echo and, and the F T in the U K?
Michael (PS302) [89] I don't think we normally do that.
[90] I think in broad terms we can say that er, Les Echo comparatively did better than the F T.
[91] But ...
Frank (PS303) [92] Yes er, the F the F T er, did improve er, Les Echo improved, Recolleters improved, the Economist was slightly down on last year, but remember, the Economist were at record profits last year and erm, so even maintaining their, their profits or just dropping is a good performance.
[93] And again, I wouldn't regard that as indicative of a full year.
[94] Yes?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [95] Can you erm, quantify what costs were taken above the line in the first half in terms of redundancy costs, restructuring costs, [...] in the presentation to some restructuring again in the fine china division and how that compared to last year?
James (PS304) [96] Redundancy costs for the first half of three point two million, nought point seven million less than ninety two.
[97] ... Yep, for the group.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [98] Is there expectations that there will be any more redundancy costs in the second half?
James (PS304) [99] Frank.
Frank (PS303) [100] Erm, yes.
[101] There could, there could well be more redundancy in the second half er, declining, but there could still be a little.
[102] Er, overall you know, we're constantly looking where, for reducing staffing levels and where we see opportunity of that, we do it.
[103] Er, and that usually involves redundancy.
[104] So we don't regard it as ever static, but er, the major push on redundancies is over.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [105] You have in the past actually erm [...] how much you think you've lowered your cost basis by over, over a period [...]
Michael (PS302) [106] Hmm.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [107] a period of two and a half, three years now.
[108] Can you quantify that again?
Michael (PS302) [109] Erm, I couldn't answer that off the top of my head but we'll erm, I'll let you have the information.
[110] I'll write to you and give you the information.
James (PS304) [111] Yes?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [112] Just, just so that we can erm, make sure for the cabaret committee you haven't given yourself enormous pay rises in the first half can you, can you split out in the corporate expenses less other, what the er, er, profit on the sale of some of your Cedar Fayre investment was?
James (PS304) [113] Yes, that's fine.
[114] It's, it's effective of the whole of the increase.
[115] Erm, let me just erm ... of the, of the change, the five million change it's, it's in accounts for over four and there is small odds and ends changes otherwise.
[116] A very modest increase in underlying costs, I assure you.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [117] How many shares have you got left in Cedar Fayre
Michael (PS302) [118] David.
David (PS305) [119] Erm, we have about four and a half percent to five percent of the company left.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [120] Erm, could you give us some idea as to what the level of the accrue er, fees on loans guarantees and, and so forth on the erm, [...]
Michael (PS302) [121] James.
James (PS304) [122] So what we're gonna be taking in and when?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [123] What you're owed [...]
James (PS304) [124] Ya, well, I haven't got the, yes, the backlog is very substantial er, in terms of things like guaranteed fees and erm, non-stock interest but it's a long way out er, I mean if we add it all up, you might be far too impressed by the figure but I think erm, we know that's the right way of looking at it.
[125] What we've got is, as you know there's a hierarchy of repayment er, starting with the de-loan stock interest which is the, the last funding and then there's the maiden dividend and then there's guarantee fees and then there's erm, sorry, before that is senior loan stock interest from B S B H and then guarantee fees.
[126] So, they kick in at different stages.
[127] What we think as, as Frank said erm, our policy is to accrue erm, income, which we think we'll get in cash terms the following year, ie, we're not gonna accrue it as soon as B Sky B expenses it, which is one end of the spectrum of erm, imprudence you could say or, and the other end, extreme prudence is to account for nothing until it's cleared er, in the bank balance.
[128] We, we now think it's appropriate to strike a medium balance, therefore we'll get the de-loan stock interest up to ninety three, we'll take in, in this year, which we expect to get next year.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [129] And how much of the cash received?
[130] I mean there's something you still owe to er, to Reed
James (PS304) [131] To Reed Erm, right, who knows the terms of the Reed Mark, do we know that one?
Mark (PS306) [132] Not off the top of my head.
[133] What we're paying them on.
[134] We're certainly paying, I, I, I think it's capital receipts, is it off, is it only the capital receipts on the interest.
[135] They had a lot of capital payments also and we have as it were the erm, the P & O element er, with B Sky B which is the erm, the items I've gone through.
[136] Then you have a number of loan repayments, and you're quite right, there is a, there is a ma an amount will be paid to Reed equivalent to, I E we're not gonna pay them the interest for the capital receipts but when amount, we receive money we're paying it on.
[137] That means we will still refracting it in our P & O account but the cash flow terms will be neutral.
Michael (PS302) [138] And I think a significant point is that for the first time in ninety three we were likely to take something in, in relation to B Sky B.
James (PS304) [139] Yes, well actually Nigel was ha was first.
[140] Same thing, right.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [141] It follows on from that question, it comes, you've got a line B Sky B er, you've got a line B Sky B in the T V er, division so it presumably, that loan interest is coming in that division, is that right, rather than net if off against interest?
James (PS304) [142] I'm afraid we're not allowed to er, Neil.
[143] Er, I think for management purposes and for presentation purposes, we will erm, presentation [...] but certainly in terms of our accounts erm, we have no option but to exempt the giving interest receivable but to erm, impress you with the modesty of our, of our interest and therefore how good our interest cover is.
[144] Maybe that's, that's erm, that's what the erm, that's what Coopers and the accounted principles require.
[145] That although it's erm, in our mind and yours, identify with a specific investment.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [146] Just following, following on from that.
[147] The er, Thames er, investment, how is that doing and have you sold Reeves yet?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [148] Thanks, er well, Thames is doing rather well.
[149] You, you, I'm sure you read about the twenty two million pound deal with er, B B C and er, and there are, there are other deals in the offing.
[150] Er, Reeves has been sold er, and so erm, the cost of that has been er, crystallized now and so that's no longer a problem.
[151] And the pr we're er, I would expect the profits of Thames to be in line with that that we expected when we acquired the business.
James (PS304) [152] Yes?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [153] Can you tell us a bit more about Addison Wesley and why you feel relaxed with that?
James (PS304) [154] Addis er, Addison Wesley and why we're relaxed.
Michael (PS302) [155] Addison, well er, it's a very well managed business, it's a very good business er, there are only two businesses in the U S A have higher sales per head than Addison Wesley, and one of those is [...] and it's had a, that's had a super time in maths and there's only one business and that's [...] which earns more profit per employee then er, Addison Wesley and erm, again that's [...] and that reflects that one off maths programme.
[156] Erm, and we're doing very well in college.
[157] So er, and the Chief Executive there would er, I think commit suicide if he, if he brought in less profits than the year before.
[158] So I'm quite relaxed and they're attacking the costs as well.
James (PS304) [159] That is not a forecast.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [laugh]
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [160] When will, when will these constraints be relaxed?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [161] Well that's, that's an [...] .
[162] Mr Clinton or Mrs Clinton [...] , I'm not sure.
[163] Unpredictable.
James (PS304) [164] Yes?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [165] Can you just say a little bit more about erm, the structure of the, the T V board, will you be looking to make any external appointments to fill those positions er, and secondly, following on from that erm, as you said you, you had a look at Star T V and came off empty handed.
[166] Do you still have interests in, in that part of the world with regards to broadcast?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [167] Er, I'll answer the second part of the, the question.
[168] I'll hand the first one over to Frank.
[169] Er, yes we do er, our overall television strategy has been to establish er, a U K base, where we are restricted because of the newspaper ownership in most cases other than B Sky B to twenty percent, though the rules may change and our strategy is to develop er, overseas, both in erm, er, broadcasting and, and, and in programming.
[170] Er, as we can make the opportunities available.
[171] There are opportunities out there and people tend to think of, or sometimes think of deals as being unique deals and they're unique in themselves, but there are always other unique deals that can be found.
Frank (PS303) [172] Yes er, Richard will be on that board and er, and we also accept, expect erm, further outside appointments.
[173] ... Appointment anyway, and possibly appointments.
James (PS304) [174] Yes?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [175] I suppose one wonders whether the Financial Times feels un uneasy about the proposed reduction in the price of the er, of the Times, as, as no doubt the Independent, probably the, the Telegraph.
James (PS304) [176] Well, I was discussing that with Frank last night and he actually pointed out that it might help the sales of the Financial Times because er, er the F T's very often bought as a second newspaper and if you get your first newspaper cheap, you've got more change in your pocket.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [laugh]
Frank (PS303) [177] Actually, the Financial Times it comes in a completely different position to erm, the Independent and, and, and the Guardian and even the Telegraph.
[178] To start with it's a specialist newspaper and secondly erm, the, the F T is, is profitable and erm, even if, even in a great recession and erm, the other element is we every year increase our overseas sales, six percent.
[179] Erm, specialist newspapers, I really don't expect the Times erm, to have any effect on the F T's sale.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [180] Could you just on that remind us what the current, what the cover price is as a percentage of revenues in the F T?
Frank (PS303) [181] Roughly eighty twenty.
[182] I mean it, obviously it varies according to whether it's, whether advertising's booming, but in, in overall, over time it can work on twenty percent on the revenue coming from the cover price and about eighty percent coming from er, from advertisements and so, it's, it's, it's not a major, major figure.
[183] Incidentally, I'm not surprised the er, the Times is reducing its price.
[184] I think it's about right now.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [laugh]
James (PS304) [185] I think that's a re terrible comment.
[186] Yes?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [187] Sir, can you give us an idea of the growth within the electronic business in the F T.
Frank (PS303) [188] In er, [...] terms, they er, they're growing very well.
[189] Erm, profitably, profitability isn't, isn't as good.
[190] We, we've been growing something like er, twenty five percent per annum.
[191] I think this year speaking from memory it was something like fifteen, sixteen percent er, increase this year erm, but er, we're getting to the stage now where it's, it's getting into profit and so we're quite pleased with the growth there.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [192] Are you still developing your presence in Japan?
Frank (PS303) [193] Yes, yes, we erm, we're obviously in Japan and erm, and increasing the sales slowly there but it's a very good market for us, very good advertisement market er, for us and er, I think I've told you before, even before, before the recession, it started, it looked as if we would recoup the extra spending in the first year.
[194] Sad to say the recession overtook that but it's, it's developing strongly again there now.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [195] It's not costing you money?
Frank (PS303) [196] It's costing us a bit of money but er, you know, we don't do these things for the short term, er
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [197] What's a bit, a million a year or?
Frank (PS303) [198] Er, well, the extra costs was two million a year er, and at the end of the first six months in the first year we'd, we'd, we'd achieved a million extra revenue, so it looks as if we've paid for it.
[199] But it's probably costing us about er, three quarters of a million to a million just now net.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [200] You've shown that you've moved erm, substantially towards variable debt but there is obviously an outburst currency impact, you said in the first half.
[201] How is your debt, your gross debt currently constituted and where is your cash held?
James (PS304) [202] Cash is overwhelmingly in sterling erm, can I just look up and remind my erm, refresh me on that.
[203] The erm, the gross borrowings, the dollar is the overwhelming element in, in terms of we have about erm, two hundred and thirty five million of sterling debt, two bond issues and some old loan stocks and then the rest of it, that's gross debt and, and some of that swaps, you know.
[204] All the, almost all are sterling except a little bit of, of Camco cash, which is in U S dollars, is in sterling and then erm, we have really a similar amount of U S dollar debt and small amounts of Canadian and French franc, peseta and Ozzie dollar where we really gear simple finance, small investments in those countries, under a hundred percent.
[205] We have offices, now we have erm, a genuine French franc exposure to Les Echo but apart from that we don't really bother.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [206] Is it possible to tell us how your advertising revenue performed in the first half on your Westminster Press and F T and whether you've experienced any improvements in sits vac advertising since the end of the first half?
Michael (PS302) [207] Yes it is and I'll hand it to Frank.
Frank (PS303) [208] Advertisement er, revenue at Westminster Press ended the six months at about the, advert revenue about the same level as last year but it was below last year's level early on, so in other words erm, advertisement volume is growing, because there's next to no, there's, the yield is about the same overall.
[209] Erm, so volume has been gradually growing as the year progresses and erm, and more so in the last erm, the last say six weeks of the er, of the half year.
[210] So, I would expect that to continue and expect erm, revenue to get ahead of last year.
[211] Erm, as I said F T volumes are flat but er, they, they, they did achieve an increase in the yield erm, but forward bookings are much better at the F T and October looks rather better, so I think advertisement volumes are, are on the increase.
[212] Situations vacant, in Westminster Press there was an increase in the south er, in volume terms, in the southern divisions, not in the northern divisions but then the northern divisions didn't experience the same problems with sits vac and are much more profitable.
[213] I mean Northern Echo at Darlington, Bradford, York, Kendal, they're all very profitable businesses er, and so they're, but they haven't had any increase in sits, in sits vac.
[214] Where, and Financial Times has had some increase in, in sits vac too, which is a high yielding er, category of course.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [215] The, the [...] deal of Lazzards of New York erm, comes in the second half, I presume and does the B M P er, flotation commence also in the second half [...] ?
Michael (PS302) [216] I think that remains to be seen.
[217] I mean, [...]
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [218] Just a bit more about Camco [...] second half is, given these little plus and minuses you've had in the first, first half, what's coming in the second?
Michael (PS302) [219] Well, erm, it's difficult to make forecasts, particularly with the S E C breathing down one's neck but I think one can say that the industry conditions, if you were to read the reports of other companies and for us, is pretty much erm, status quo, in other words the domestic [sneeze] excuse me, domestic industry's doing quite well, the rig, the rig count's up, the Canadian rig count's up, international markets remain rather soggy but some of them are qui you know on a, on a selective basis some are quite good.
[220] For example the erm, Frank referred to [...] doing quite well and some of that was due to sales into the former Soviet Union.
James (PS304) [221] Erm, the erm, the erm, the erm, er, settlement of the anti tr civil anti trust law suit that was referred to in the statement was erm, costs of about six million dollars this year on a class action law suit which we have reached a tentative settlement on in the last few days and, in fact, there were some, there was about six to seven million dollars of additional provision made at the end of last year in the one time charges that we referred to at that time but couldn't really identify with erm, lawyers breathing down your necks in the United States and er, this is a class action law suit, would have been in a Texas Court and erm, you know, the boiler plate language is that you want to get rid of the, you know, the [...] expense and uncertainty of this type of litigation and if you think that what a Texas jury did to Texaco, it's probably a prudent decision to close the matter off at this time.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [222] Is it a recent provision order, that?
James (PS304) [223] Well, they're making a new one.
Michael (PS302) [224] It's a combination of costs incurred this year plus provision to cover erm, the costs of the settlement, legal expenses and other allied, and other related items.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [225] With, with regards to Camco's Eastern European sales drive, does this have any er, implications in terms of er, working capital movements, in terms of helping them fund those acquisitions and what sort of er, provisions perhaps, are you taking on those sales?
Frank (PS303) [226] Erm, I'm not sure I quite understand the question.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [227] Well, in terms of er, bad debt.
Frank (PS303) [228] Erm, we gen gen generally speaking sales into places like the former Soviet Union and other parts of the world are done against letters of credit, so generally speaking there are not erm, bad debt problems.
[229] You know, one or two inci one or two isolated incidents but overall erm, the erm, business in the oil service industry is done on, on erm, er, a letter of credit terms.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [230] Er, how did the entertainment businesses do in July and August?
Michael (PS302) [231] Frank.
Frank (PS303) [232] They, they did very well.
[233] Good attendances ... and Alton Towers particularly is erm, is, is er, booming, doing very strong business and also has one or two promotionals, er promotional activities which should er, extend the se extend that er, later in the season.
[234] So, it's going well.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [235] Erm, I seem to remember that when we met earlier in the year and you were looking forward to, to, to this year as a whole, I think you er, indicated that it was going to be a good year and I think you also suggested, if I remember right, that you thought the better part of that improvement would be seen in the second half rather than the first.
[236] I wonder, if I got it right and I remember it correctly, whether that's still the view?
Frank (PS303) [237] Well, I think that I bore people endlessly by saying that erm, the first half results are not an indication of the year as a whole because we make the bulk of our pro profits in the second half and you know, that remains, that remains true.
[238] I think at the time of the er, of the A G M, I said we were pleased by the prospects and in the current statement I say the outlook continues promising, but I don't think at any point we've made more of a forecast than that.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [239] Are you gonna repeat the miracle of the first half and sen sell some more land in Thurrock in the second half?
Michael (PS302) [240] I'll turn that to Mark , cos I'm not on the Thurrock committee.
Mark (PS307) [241] I, I think I would be unwise too to make a forecast, so all, all I can say is there are some enquiries around of er, people who appear to be interested but erm, er, you know, the burden hangs quite a lot, you know ... the burden's still, the [...] is quite a long way away still, but it's not impossible we could sell some more land.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [242] You've got, you've got the cash from CostCo, haven't you?
David (PS305) [243] Yes, yeah, yes, yes.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [244] Er, sorry, just to follow up on B Sky B again, are you gonna be accruing for any arrears in the interest er, in the second half, as well as the ongoing amount?
Michael (PS302) [245] Yes, yes, we'll get, we'll get the ninety two and ninety three erm interest for [...] in ninety, in the second half.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [246] So what you would have had for the whole of ninety two and the whole of ninety three will all come in, will all come in the second half of ninety three.
[247] Right, thanks.
Michael (PS302) [248] Yeah, on the, on the de on the de-loan stock.
[249] Yes?
Frank (PS303) [250] Would it be helpful to give some order of magnitude here, James?
James (PS304) [251] Yes, Chairman.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [laugh]
James (PS304) [252] Less, less than ten million.
James (PS304) [253] Yes.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [...]
Michael (PS302) [254] Brilliant management.
[255] Well, one of the reasons it er, bucked the trend was because ...
Frank (PS303) [256] Is this Les Echo?
Michael (PS302) [257] Yeah, one of the reasons it bucked the trend was because we've erm, ground one of our competitors into the dust and he's had to combine with another newspaper there and that too is struggling.
[258] Incidently, it's just had a change of ownership erm, a well-financed new owner but we're, we're still confident of our position there.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [...]
Michael (PS302) [259] No, no, he actually got erm, erm, a nice increase in, in fin in financial advertising.
[260] I don't want to give you the impression it's buoyant there, it isn't.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [261] Could you say anything about your [...] extension plans, I mean have they changed much, or what might they do in Tokyo?
Michael (PS302) [262] Not much, well probably about sixty million for, for the year I'd say.
James (PS304) [263] Or a bit more.
[264] They always, they always lag as you know, our, our, we always underspend capital in the first half against what our division think they're gonna do and they always think they're gonna catch it up in the second half, they never do but erm, it won't be, you know, it won't be materially different.
Michael (PS302) [265] Well, I think the budget's ninety, in the nineties but we don't expect to spend more than sixty million.
James (PS304) [266] Yeah, [...] , we won't spend that much.
[267] Somewhere in between, let's say.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [268] Your Royal Doulton, you might have some idea of how the er, different brands are doing.
[269] You mentioned in the annual report and accounts that Expressions was meant to be doing very well although its more up market brands were slightly more sluggish.
Frank (PS303) [270] Er, can the future Chairman answer that?
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [271] I haven't got the detailed figures er, er, with me but er, I believe that still is the case, that er, er, people's eating habits are er, that dining habits as it were er, are changing somewhat and the er, the everyday china market is, is possibly more buoyant than the er, erm, the Royal Crown [...] and Minton.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [272] Would you make any conscious decision to move slightly down market or less up market?
(HYFPS000) [273] I myself wouldn't use that phrase.
[274] I think that er, er, what I would say is that er, we would follow the markets erm, where they lead us.
Michael (PS302) [275] And the answer's yes.
Unknown speaker (HYFPSUNK) [laugh]
Frank (PS303) [276] The fine china's er, doing er, quite well in, in Japan actually and that's starting to pick up again.
James (PS304) [277] Any, shall I say a couple more questions?
[278] If anybody's got one.
[279] No, no more questions.
[280] Well, thank you very much indeed.