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ARLEN, UP 9.7% FOR YEAR, LOOKS FOR AN ATTRACTIVE BUY

Arlen Plc has hit the buffers in terms of its revenue growth and chairman Greville Howard has resigned himself to the lottery that is growth by acquisition. The Slough, UK-based manufacturer and distributor of electrical fittings and heat dispersers for computer manufacturer is sitting on 15m pounds of cash at present and rather than return this to its shareholders, the company is actively pursuing acquisitions. For the year ended December 31 Arlen Plc has turned in net profits up 9.7% at 3.2m pounds on revenue that grew 2.5% to 28.8m pounds. Arlen’s business is heavily linked to the UK housing market, which continues to limp along at an unconvincing pace. So much so that Howard has already issued warnings about poor trading in 1997, pushing the share price down five pence to 40.5 pence. Shareholders should be familiar with the plan to acquire as it has been on the agenda for at least 12 months, but so far without substance. In the face of this delay, the board proposes to pay out at least some of the stockpiled cash as increased dividends. The proposed final is 0.8 pence, for a total for the year of 1.2 pence, a rise of 71%.

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