YOU CAN'T get sexier than buses on the Isle of Wight. Well, you can, but I still experienced a frisson the other day when I read in the Investors Chronicle that they were tipping a tiny bus company called Southern Vectis, which operates on the island.
The IC has taken an interest in Southern Vectis for some time, and readers who shared the magazine's enthusiasm found themselves with healthy returns when the company demerged its environmental services arm a year or so ago. Since last spring, when I bought a few, the shares have languished or, to put a rather more positive spin on matters, have massively outperformed the rest of the market.
Just standing still is an even more impressive achievement when you consider what has happened to the transport sector recently, but I don't suppose even the most desperate al-Qa'ida terrorist would bother to hijack a Shanklin Hoppabus.
In any case the shares, at around 30p, yield a perfectly respectable 5 per cent or so and, although the debt level is a bit high, and there is an outside risk of another aggressive operator muscling in, the Southern Vectis Omnibus Company, quoted on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM), should provide steady if unspectacular growth, no bad thing in the current environment.
And while we're on the subject of small companies with reasonable growth prospects, I am puzzled why Signature Restaurants has been such a disappointing performer. Not so long ago, it was Belgo, after its Belgian-themed mussels and friterie joints, but it changed its name to reflect the other famous establishments it owns, such as The Ivy and Le Caprice. It also had a one-for-20 share consolidation to remove its …