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Company spotlight: T Clarke

FINANCE

THE quoted members of the construction industry are more focused after changes to the FTSE sector, giving T Clarke more limelight in a smaller construction sector.

The specialist electrical contractor usually tries to keep a low profile for a quoted business.

This is to avoid rubbing main contractors' noses in the higher margins enjoyed by most specialists, which are mostly privately owned companies, apart from T Clarke and ground engineer Keller.

T Clarke will also wish to keep last week's end-of-year trading statement relatively quiet with the admission that profits for 2005 will be at the lower end of expectations.

The shares have recently been trading in the middle of their 12-month range but are more likely to be marked down as the next set of prof its will, as the firm studiously pointed out, be inflated by £1 million from the sale of vacated group premises.

Signs are there that the group's core commercial market is reviving and this was reiterated last week.

There will, though, be a delay between the encouraging level of enquiries that T Clarke enjoyed towards the end of 2005 and actual awards and this will drag on operating margins.

This will continue into the first half of this year before an improvement is evident in the latter six months of 2006.

The situation may draw sympathy from once-envious main contractors but will do little for the shares' short-term popular ity in the Square Mile.