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Company Spotlight: Telford Homes

FINANCE

INVESTORS who took a punt on Telford Homes when the house builder floated on the Alternative Investment Market in 2001 should feel pleased if they kept the stock.

Telford floated at 50p and the shares have since rocketed past the 80p mark, leaving the firm with a market capitalisation of £20 million.

At the time of the float, house prices were climbing in the south-east, where Telford mainly works, and the management, James Furlong and Andrew Wiseman, had a proven track record after building up and selling Furlong Homes for £20 million.

As a result, the float for their latest venture was oversubscribed, and the pair have not let investors down with an interim turnover of £9.2 million and pre-tax profit of £1.4 million equal to the first 16 months after Telford floated.

Another share placing raised £3 million and five new sites were acquired, taking the firm's development portfolio to a total of 21 sites.

But, with house prices in the south-east running out of steam, investors and shareholders will be taking a careful look at the return on invested capital.

The Government's regeneration plans for the Thames Gateway area, where Telford builds many of its £200,000 homes, presents an opportunity - but a return to the market may be needed if house prices stall.

A sudden crash in Telford's share price or the housing market is unlikely but the stock may have hit a plateau, suggesting a time to take profits.