Shares: New chief raises Hornby hopes

IT IS behind some of the UK’s best-loved brands, but shareholders in Hornby haven’t enjoyed an easy ride in recent years.

A Scalextric electric car racing set on display at the Hornby Hobbies stand, during the press day for the annual Toy Fair at Olympia in London. Picture: Contributed

Shares in the firm, which as well as the famous model train maker owns Scalextric, Corgi and Airfix, are trading at less than half the 160p-plus levels they reached in 2010 and have failed to make any headway in the past year.

Last month the firm warned that supply chain issues meant group sales for the latest financial year are expected to be below current market expectations and below last year’s performance.

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But shares in the company perked up a little last week after it ended an 11-month search for a chief executive with the news that former Ladbrokes director Richard Ames will join in April.

Ames had run the UK and Ireland retail operations for the bookmaker, and earlier in his career he worked at Dixons as a marketing director.

He also helped to lead the consumer electronics divisions at Asda Wal-Mart.

With two non-executives also appointed, investors will be hoping the new-look board will act as a catalyst for improved trading at the company and a re-rating of its shares in the months ahead.

n Comments on investor 
bulletin boards – often posted by anonymous investors debating prospects for shares they often own stakes in – frequently need to be taken with a generous pinch of salt.

But if a post last week by a character called “Jakus” on one of the forums is accurate, then he has done very well out of his holding in mobile banking technology firm Monitise over the years.

Now retired, he bought in when the shares were 3p (they now stand at around 70p) and is on an extended break in the Far East funded by the gains he has made.

Its stellar performance has made Monitise – which provides the technology used for mobile banking to 350 
financial institutions worldwide, including NatWest, HSBC and Lloyds – one of the most talked-about companies among private investors, and the chatter will no doubt build ahead of interim results on Wednesday. Analysts’ price targets on the shares currently range from 26p to 115p.

n Shares in Aberdeen-based Plexus Holdings rose close to their all-time high of 293.5p last week after it announced another three orders for its equipment used in oil and gas exploration. The firm floated at 75p in 2005.