Investor's Champion Blog
Provides refreshingly forthright, independent comment on predominantly small cap companies and specialist investment funds. Informed opinion, based on first-hand research, but pulls no punches in exposing management weaknesses.

Vertu Motors - a very positive AGM statement from a car dealer

Vertu Motors came out with a very positive trading statement on a day when the market was thankfully also on the up.

Vertu now operates 46 motor dealerships and, on a turnover basis, is the tenth largest motor retailer in the UK – not bad from a standing start in December 2006!

In addition to key management changes across dealerships, cost savings have been achieved in line with group plans through the closure of the former head offices of Bristol Street Motors and the Blakes Group. Head office functions are now located in Newcastle upon Tyne.

A new internet offering is due to be launched in September and they appear to be placing a fair bit of emphaisis on this to help drive car sales – we shall see!

I like the bit about the surplus properties with estimated proceeds and book value of around £12 million and the fact that a number of these properties are conditionally contracted for sale in the first half of 2008 which will reduce debt and add some acquisition fire power.

I wonder if they are looking at HR Owen. It's doesn't really follow management's strategy but if the deal looks good, who knows!

The bad news is in the Commercial vehicles dealerships and specifically the three Iveco dealerships. Apparently nationally Iveco has under performed against other franchises with heavy truck registrations for Iveco nationally declining 20.8% in the period from April to July and light commercials declining 8.4%.

The core car business has been promising with Bristol Street Motors' dealerships putting in a good performance. While the UK used car market in 2007 has remained flat in terms of volumes Bristol Street Motors' dealerships acquired on 27 March 2007 increased used car volumes on a like-for-like basis by 8.0% in the period April to July - a fantastic performance. The new Mondeo should hopefully help.

All in all, quite a positive statement, especially given all the credit worries around at the moment.

With the share price having dipped, I even see that the Chief Exec took the opportunity to acquire some shares at 66p.

The house broker believes that Vertu ‘offers a strong long term investment opportunity' and with the shares having fallen in recent weeks they have changed their recommendation from Add to BUY – read into that what you will!

Vertu's got a great management team which has done it all before so they are probably worth following


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