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Company spotlight: Tolent

FINANCE

DESPITE a turnover just 10 per cent of Mowlem's, Tolent made more out of construction last year than the major contractor.

Workload in 2004 was buoyed by the newly completed £60 million headquarters for Sage Group in Tolent's native Newcastle upon Tyne and edged up to £122.8 million from £117.1 million.

Pre-tax profits romped up £1.9 million to £4 million, driven partly by a £429,000 one-off exceptional item, but at an underlying level Tolent is trading to a 2.6 per cent operating margin.

This is well above the industry average and unlike many quoted firms Tolent, which is listed on the Alternative Investment Market, is not chasing Government cash.

The £98 million order book is stacked with work for private clients including pharmaceutical and petrochemical firms such as Dupont and BOC.

Since returning from Germany in the late 1990s and joining forces with Amco, Tolent has fared better than its Tynesidebased neighbour.

Tolent was floated on AIM in 1999 but still works with Amco and the two share a joint venture, Checkhire, which is developing land near the M1.

Tolent continues to develop on its own with a fully let portfolio and more units coming on stream at its Temple Point scheme in Leeds.

This income has enabled the firm to start declaring dividends, which was not initially possible after the float due to debts taken on board after the demerger from Amco.

The dividend for 2004 of 7.5p per share was 50 per cent up on the previous year, which explains the share rise, but there is no reason to sell yet.