Too small and too complicated for the stockbrokers, the analysts and the fund managers to understand,’ a City insider replied when I asked why mid-sized engineering stocks are at a discount to the market and are slow to increase in value to match their progress.
This is not much of an incentive to directors and managers on a bonus based on improving share price.
The attractions of taking your publicly quoted mid-sized engineering firm private has never been better. B Elliot is doing it. Another part of the City will even lend you the money.
Last week I mentioned rumours of GEC and Rolls-Royce getting together. Subsequent talk has focused more on Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Witney. I understand that Rolls-Royce is saying it wants to be in control should they merge. I agree.
Rolls-Royce is one of the few engineering firms where innovation starts here and the result is implemented here.
The trouble is there appears to be room for two global aeroengine makers, not three.
Like the 275,000 country folk marching in London the other day, I too belong to a minority group, the engineering manufacturing sector. If there is a time for representing our corner it is now.
All the pointers say manufacturing is going from bad to worse and the Foundation of Manufacturing and Industry says the engineering sector is likely to suffer most.
What a miserable story.
At the same time the services sector is booming and might make the Bank of England act again against manufacturing interests.
We can quietly wait for the pound to go down or we can make a fuss. I am not keen on marching, but it would please me to know that Blair, Smith, Robinson, Beckett and all were listening as hard to us as they were to the countryside lobby.
Brian Small is a non-executive director of several firms and a management consultant.