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Company spotlight: Slingsby

FINANCE

DECADES ago, for anyone working in the building industry at low heights there was little choice between a long ladder and a scaffold rig.

Powered access has closed that gap in the market but this has not stopped ladder-maker HC Slingsby turning in a solid profit.

The Bradford-based firm, which was established in 1883 after Harry Slingsby started looking into labour-saving devices for workers at his bottling plant, has long since moved into other areas, including simple handling equipment, and expanded into Ireland.

The company floated back in 1961 but retains its founder's initials. Several family members, including chairman James Slingsby, are still on the board.

Listed in the engineering and machinery section of the stock exchange, Slingsby has a market capitalisation of around £11 million, yet the shares have motored on in the past six months.

Last year, pre-tax profits rose just £117,000 to £1.2 million.

But this rate of increase was in excess of the growth in sales, with turnover rising £246,000 to £17.6 million.

The buying since the last results were released in April has increased sharply ahead of the interim results due out next month.

City gossip suggests that full-year profits could reach £2.2 million for 2004.

The shares have been one of the best performing small-cap stocks so far this year but, with a price to earnings ratio of 10, could still have a few more rungs to climb.