Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Just in a Plunge as It Shakes Up at the Top; Market Report

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Just in a Plunge as It Shakes Up at the Top; Market Report

Article excerpt


SHARES in AIM-listed children's books publisher Just Group tumbled 4.88p, or almost 60%, to 3.37p today after returning from their brief suspension.

They were frozen late on Friday after more than 15 million changed hands as the group prepared to rock the market with a profits warning and a boardroom reshuffle. A change of accounting policy meant that some contracts had not yielded any revenue in the year to April, leading to a loss before exceptional items.

Chief executive Wilf Shorrocks and his wife, commercial director Paula, were given a year's money of [pound]225,000 and asked to pack their bags. The company blamed their departure on a bust-up with the new finance director David Newcombe. It was he who had introduced the new accounting policy that led to the losses.

In May, Just told the City trading was ahead of expectations. Investors also became excited after the group obtained the worldwide distribution rights to the cartoon series Butt Ugly Martians.

In March Just hit a peak of 14p, valuing the company at [pound]155 million. After today's fall in the share price, its stock market value is only [pound]33 million.

The Shorrocks are expected to hold on to their 10% stake in the business, which has dropped in value from [pound]9 million to [pound]3.3 million during the past couple of days.

Share prices elsewhere in London were again on the slide with the FTSE 100 index testing the 5300 support level as it dropped 44.5 to 5300.5, reflecting fresh falls overnight in the Far East where Japan's Nikkei 225 Average fell for the fifth consecutive day to trade at a 17-year low. The latest fall in Tokyo was prompted by Hitachi reversing its profit target to warn of losses for the full year.

Friday's rallies in London and New York were prompted by bear closing following four days of heavy falls. …

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