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Fins Growth Inc Tst (FGT)

  Print      Mail a friend       Annual reports

Tuesday 20 May, 2008

Fins Growth Inc Tst

Interim Results

                                                          For immediate release

                                                                    20 May 2008

To: City Editors

                      Finsbury Growth & Income Trust PLC                       

         Announces Interim Results for the six months to 31 March 2008         

Financial Highlights:                  (Unaudited)      (Audited)     % change
                                     31 March 2008   30 September             
Share price                                 246.0p         307.5p        -20.0
Net asset value per share                   259.3p         315.4p    -17.8    
(Discount) of share price to net            (5.1)%         (2.5)%          n/a
asset value per share                                                         
Shareholders' funds                        £136.6m        £166.1m        -17.8
Market capitalisation                      £129.6m        £161.9m        -20.0
                                     Six months to  Six months to  One year to
                                     31 March 2008                            
                                                         31 March 30 September
Share price (total return)#                 -20.0%         +10.4%        +5.3%
Net asset value per share (total            -17.8%          +9.6%        +6.9%
FTSE All-Share Index (total return)         -10.2%          +9.2%       +12.2%
Dividends                              Year ending Year ending 30             
                                      30 September September 2007             
First interim dividend                    4.4p per 4.2p per share             
Second interim dividend                  Yet to be 4.8p per share             

# Source - Fundamental Data for the AIC

For and on behalf of

Frostrow Capital LLP, Secretary

20 May 2008

                                   - ENDS -                                    

The following are attached:

* Chairman's Statement

* Investment Manager's Review

* Income Statement

* Reconciliation of Movements in Shareholders' Funds

* Balance Sheet

* Cash Flow Statement

* Notes to the interim accounts

For further information please contact:

Alastair Smith/Mark Pope, Frostrow Capital LLP 020 3008 4911/4913

Jo Stonier, Quill Communications 020 7758 2236

Nick Train, Lindsell Train Limited 020 7227 8200

Chairman's Statement

I would like to take this opportunity to place on record the Company's
gratitude to Michael Reeve for 17 years of outstanding leadership during which
the Company has grown from a size of approximately £20m to £132m (as at 16 May
2008).On behalf of the Board and shareholders alike I would like to wish him a
long and happy retirement.


The period under review has been a challenging one for stock markets as a whole
and in my first Chairman's Statement since taking over in January, I am
disappointed to have to report that in the six months to 31 March 2008 your
Company's net asset value per share declined by 17.8%, on a total return basis.
This compares to a fall of 10.2% in the Company's benchmark, the FTSE All-Share
Index, measured on a total return basis.

The market price of your Company's shares decreased by 20.0% over the six month
period leading to a widening in the discount of the Company's share price to
the net asset value per share from 2.5% to 5.1%.

The six months under review have been dominated by much publicised difficult
credit markets, exposure to sub-prime debt and the state of the banking sector
generally. The Company's exposure to the banking sector and the lack of
exposure to commodity companies have undoubtedly hindered investment
performance, together with the fact that, in part, the Company's investment
portfolio is invested in currently `out of favour' sectors of the market. Your
Board remains supportive of the Investment Manager's strategy and continues to
believe that the strategy will deliver superior investment returns over the
longer term.

Share Capital

The Company has been active in buying back shares for treasury where they were
offered at a discount greater than 5.0% to the net asset value per share. A
total of 642,396 shares were repurchased for treasury in late 2007 and early
2008 in accordance with the Company's stated policy. These shares were then
reissued to new shareholders in early 2008 at a price representing a narrower
discount to net asset value per share than that at which they had been bought
into treasury. At 31 March 2008 a further 123,000 shares had been repurchased
to be held as treasury shares and as at the date of this report a total of
518,750 shares are held in treasury.

Return and Dividend

The Income Statement shows a total loss per share of 51.33p made up of a
revenue return per share of 4.11p and a capital loss per share of 55.44p.

Your Board has declared an interim dividend of 4.4 p per share (2007: 4.2p)
which was paid on 6 May 2008 to shareholders on the register at the close of
business on 4 April 2008.


Your Company has two fixed term committed revolving credit facilities: one of £
20m and a further one of £10m. These are subject to variable rates of interest
but can be fixed at any time. As at 31 March 2008, a total of £14m was drawn
down under these facilities.


As mentioned in the Company's annual report, the Company is taking steps to
recover VAT paid to its previous and current investment managers, Close
Investments Limited (formerly Close Finsbury Asset Management Limited) and
Lindsell Train Limited respectively. Given the volume of claims HMR&C have to
process, it is likely to be a significant period of time before any amounts are
refunded. The amounts involved are not expected to have a material impact on
the Company's net asset value. The Company will take credit for VAT recovered
when any such recovery can be assessed with reasonable certainty.

Savings Plans

The investment plans managed by Close Investments on behalf of the Company
have, subject to FSA rules, recently been transferred to Alliance Trust Savings
Limited. Existing plan members should have received confirmation of the
transfer including their new account details. It is our hope that being
included in the much larger, market-wide scheme run by Alliance Trust Savings
Limited will lead to increased private investor interest in the Company.


The economic outlook remains uncertain and, against a backdrop of poor
liquidity in the banking sector and high inter-bank borrowing costs, stock
market conditions will continue to be difficult, although interestingly the
recent announcement of enormous rights issues by leading banks has given the
market some measure of reassurance. Your Company remains fully invested and
provides shareholders with a geared exposure to a recovery in equity markets.
Dividend growth has generally been strong across the investment portfolio and
your Board remains confident as to the long term outlook for equity markets.

Anthony Townsend


20 May 2008

Investment Manager's Review

We are disappointed with our investment performance for the past six months.

Below we analyse the investment portfolio in the context of this
disappointment, highlighting areas where shareholders may reasonably be

At outset we regret to report one permanent loss of capital value - arising
from the disposal of our longstanding investment in Bradford & Bingley (B&B),
at a loss to book cost of some 30%. We had thought B&B a conservative lender,
with a trusted and valuable brand. We exited the shares because we were unable
to square our original analysis with the bank's revelations of its significant
investments in "sub-prime" debt. B&B shares have fallen 40.0% since we sold,
but this is thin comfort.

Staying with banks, we are also disappointed that we failed to foresee the
extent to which fears about a systemic financial crisis would hit the value of
the bank preference shares in which we are invested. We hold three such stocks,
HBOS 9.25%, HBOS 9.75% and NatWest 9.0%, amounting to 8.1% of the investment
portfolio. We look for two benefits from owning this paper. First, delivery of
a stream of high and safe dividends. Next, we hope the preference shares will
provide security or "defensiveness" into any economic downturn - that they
might even go up in value during a period of pressure on corporate profits and
falling interest rates. In fact, while investors are concerned about not so
much the dividend-paying capacity of a given financial institution, but its
very survival, our hopes have proven irrelevant and all bank paper, both
ordinary and preference, has fallen. Only once these fears abate will
preference shares recover, perhaps after a round of rights issues. Issuance of
new ordinary shares is not dilutive to the interests of preference
shareholders, indeed it enhances the security of the preference dividends.

Separately, our investment in bank ordinary shares amounts to 9.1% of the
investment portfolio, via Lloyds and HBOS and here we think investors may
underestimate the support to profits that will be provided by their savings
divisions. Companies that may benefit from a prolonged pick-up in the UK
savings ratio are an important theme for our strategy - including not only
Halifax and Scottish Widows (owned by Lloyds), but Hargreaves Lansdown, 
Rathbone and Schroders.

Away from financials the key investment issue for the Company has been our
longstanding lack of exposure to mining companies. This is for reasons of
investment principle. These principles deter us from investing in companies
with unpredictable and cyclical profits, because bitter experience suggests
that the turning points are hard to spot. Miners certainly exhibit highly
volatile returns on their capital. This is because during any upturn both the
volumes and prices of the commodities they sell rise in tandem, delivering
extraordinary gearing to the Profit and Loss account. In a downturn the
opposite applies. Some bulls argue that mining companies are a buy because
basic commodities are actually running out. The poor recent share price
performance of BP and Shell, despite soaring oil prices, is a warning that this
argument is flawed. If the miners really are running down their reserves, they
should be valued as annuities, like the UK oil majors, rather than, as now,
growth stocks. The reality is though, that every day new mining projects are
being announced. Today these capacity increases are rewarded with rising share
prices, just as the telephone companies were applauded for putting down ever
more fibre-optic capacity in 2000. Sooner or later the increased supply will
cause returns to plummet - look at British Telecom.

Considered dispassionately, our reluctance to invest in commodity companies has
disadvantaged shareholders. In the end our job is to beat the market and
pursuing this objective while not owning miners has tied one hand behind our
backs. On the other hand, adhering to the house philosophy that has worked for
us is important for the integrity of Lindsell Train Limited and for our
clients. We conclude that shareholders may choose to sell their investment if
they disapprove of the investment portfolio which results from the application
of our philosophy, but that they should definitely sell if they see us
capitulating and buying "hot" commodity shares, in an effort to recover

Another question that has exercised us over the period is the appropriate level
of your Company's borrowings. With the FTSE All-Share down over the last six
months and some of our investments falling by more, it is all too easy to see
in hindsight that any gearing has worked against shareholders' interests.
Indeed, we reacted, cutting borrowings from £24.9m at 30 September 2007 to £
14.0m by the end of March and to £13.3m as at the date of this report. Much of
the reduction came from the sale of 35.0% of the investment in the London Stock
Exchange, at prices close to its all-time high. Gearing now stands at 9.5% of
the Company's net asset value. It is our intention to maintain the gearing at
c.10.0% of the Company's net asset value. This we regard as a "reasonable"
level of leverage, offering shareholders geared exposure to the eventual
recovery in equity markets. We work on the assumption that the investment
portfolio will generate a return well in excess of the cost of sterling debt in
the medium term, particularly if interest rates continue to decline, as seems

In conclusion, we have two observations:

First, the biggest disappointment for us today is that so much of the
investment portfolio is so evidently out of favour. In this circumstance, we
can do little better than hunker down and wait for fashion to change. We assure
you we will not be bumped out of an underperforming strategy at the bottom - a
cardinal sin in our opinion;

Next, we are bullish about the markets and the strategy. In part this is simply
our temperamental optimism and we draw comfort from the proposition - "the
worse it feels, the greater the scope for positive surprises". The Bear Stearns
collapse certainly made us feel as bad as we can remember in 25 years. So far
as shareholders are concerned, what is important is not so much whether this
optimism is misplaced for the next quarter or so, but the fact that the
investment portfolio remains fully invested across a range of securities, some
of which have fallen markedly and are very unloved.

For instance, nearly 30.0% of the investment portfolio is invested in three
shares - Cadbury, Diageo and Unilever. Each offers exposure to the strongest
investment idea we have today. Each is materially undervalued, in our opinion.
The theme is consumption growth in the Emerging Markets, where billions of new
consumers offer a multi-decade growth opportunity to these companies. Each is
advantaged in that they already own resonant brands and have established
distribution in these regions. As to valuation, we monitor transactions between
branded goods owners and note that the multiples paid to acquire genuine global
brands continue to escalate. Scottish & Newcastle commanded a takeout price of
3.0x annual sales and 22x EV/EBITDA (Enterprise Value/Earnings before Interest,
Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation). Pernod has just paid 5.25x sales and an EV
/EBITDA multiple of 21x for Absolut vodka. By contrast, the comparable ratings
for our holdings are as follows - Cadbury 1.9x and11.5x, Diageo 4.0x and 13.0x
and Unilever 1.8x and 10.8x.

In addition, dividend growth across the investment portfolio has been strong -
relative to our expectations and to current inflation. Last year over 60.0% of
the companies by value increased their dividends by at least 10.0% (including
over a quarter by 20.0%). Meanwhile, over 95.0% of the ordinary shares
increased dividends by at least 5.0%, double the rate of UK inflation. These
increases are historic and we already know that the HBOS distribution will be
lower in the current year, however, with the investment portfolio already
offering a dividend yield higher than the market average, the majority of the
companies are building up significant latent share value.

In confirmation of that assertion, we note that our in-house valuation work
generates a weighted target upside for the investment portfolio of some 65.0%
higher than current prices. For instance, we agree with Nelson Peltz' target
price for Cadbury of c. £10 per share (he is the US raider who has built a
stake in Cadbury, possibly with aggressive intentions). For us these target
prices are not short term objectives, but they do demonstrate substantial
opportunity for the strategy.

Nick Train, Lindsell Train Limited

Investment Manager

20 May 2008

Income Statement

For the six months ended 31 March 2008

                             (Unaudited)            (Unaudited)               (Audited)
                        Six months ended       Six months ended              Year ended
                           31 March 2008          31 March 2007       30 September 2007
               Revenue Capital     Total Revenue Capital  Total Revenue Capital   Total
                 £'000 £'000       £'000 £'000   £'000    £'000 £'000   £'000     £'000
(Losses)/gains       - (28,432) (28,432)       -  15,253 15,253       -   7,401   7,401
on investments                                                                         
held at fair                                                                           
value through                                                                          
profit or loss                                                                         
Income (note   2,776   -        2,776    2,591   -       2,591  6,253   -       6,253  
Investment       (162)    (330)    (492)   (203)   (412)  (615)   (415)   (895) (1,310)
management and                                                                         
(note 3)                                                                               
Other expenses (233)   -        (233)    (244)   -       (244)  (513)   -       (513)  
Return/(loss)    2,381 (28,762) (26,381)   2,144  14,841 16,985   5,325   6,506  11,831
on ordinary                                                                            
before finance                                                                         
charges and                                                                            
Finance          (217)    (441)    (658)   (210)   (427)  (637)   (470)   (954) (1,424)
Return/(loss)    2,164 (29,203) (27,039)   1,934  14,414 16,348   4,855   5,552  10,407
on ordinary                                                                            
Taxation on          -        -        -       -       -      -       -       -       -
Return/(loss)    2,164 (29,203) (27,039)   1,934  14,414 16,348   4,855   5,552  10,407
on ordinary                                                                            
after taxation                                                                         
Return/(loss)    4.11p (55.44)p (51.33)p   3.82p  28.44p 32.26p   9.44p  10.79p  20.23p
per share                                                                              
(note 4)                                                                               

The total column of this statement represents the Income Statement of the
Company. The revenue and capital return columns are supplementary to this and
are prepared under guidance published by the Association of Investment

All items in the above statement derive from continuing operations. The Company
had no recognised gains or losses other than those declared in the Income

Reconciliation of Movements in Shareholders' Funds

Six months ended 31    Called   Share Special    Capital  Capital Revenue    Total
March 2008                 up premium reserve redemption reserves reserve         
                        share                                                £'000
                      capital account   £'000    reserve    £'000   £'000         
                        £'000   £'000                                             
At 30 September 2007  13,162  35,482  12,424  3,453      97,023   4,511   166,055 
Net (loss) return           -       -       -          - (29,203)   2,164 (27,039)
from ordinary                                                                     
Second interim              -       -       -          -        - (2,527)  (2,527)
dividend (4.8p per                                                                
share) for the year                                                               
ended 30 September                                                                
Shares issued net of       37     432       -          -        -       -      469
issue expenses                                                                    
Repurchase of shares        -       -       -          -  (2,055)       -  (2,055)
into treasury                                                                     
Sale of shares from         -       -       -          -    1,677       -    1,677
At 31 March 2008       13,199  35,914  12,424      3,453   67,442   4,148  136,580

Six months ended 31                                                            
March 2007                                                                     
At 30 September 2006    12,309  25,414  12,424    3,453  91,471   3,907 148,978
Net return from              -       -       -        -  14,414   1,934  16,348
ordinary activities                                                            
Second interim         -       -       -       -        -       (2,068) (2,068)
dividend (4.2p per                                                             
share) for the year                                                            
ended 30 September                                                             
Shares issued net of       578   6,658       -        -       -       -   7,236
issue expenses                                                                 
At 31 March 2007        12,887  32,072  12,424    3,453 105,885   3,773 170,494

Year ended 30                                                                  
September 2007                                                                 
At 30 September 2006   12,309   25,414  12,424 3,453    91,471  3,907   148,978
Net return from        -        -       -      -        5,552   4,855   10,407 
ordinary activities                                                            
Second interim                -       -      -        -       - (2,068) (2,068)
dividend (4.2p per                                                             
share) for the year                                                            
ended 30 September                                                             
First interim dividend        -       -      -        -       - (2,183) (2,183)
(4.2p per share) for                                                           
the year ended 30                                                              
September 2007                                                                 
Shares issued net of   853      10,068  -      -        -       -       10,921 
issue expenses                                                                 
At 30 September 2007     13,162  35,482 12,424    3,453  97,023   4,511 166,055

Balance Sheet

As at 31 March 2008

                              (Unaudited)    (Unaudited)          (Audited)
                             31 March2008  31 March 2007  30 September 2007
                                    £'000          £'000              £'000
Investments held at fair          148,344        193,127            189,042
value through profit or                                                    
Current assets                                                             
Debtors                             1,691          1,789              1,753
Bank balances and short               741            140                507
term deposits                                                              
                                    2,432          1,929              2,260
Current liabilities                                                        
Creditors                     (196)                (212)              (397)
Bank loans               (14,000)         (24,350)       (24,850)          
                         (14,196)         (24,562)       (25,247)          
Net current liabilities  (11,764)         (22,633)       (22,987)          
Total net assets                  136,580        170,494            166,055
Capital and reserves                                                       
Called up share capital            13,199         12,887             13,162
Share premium account              35,914         32,072             35,482
Special reserve                    12,424         12,424             12,424
Capital redemption                  3,453          3,453              3,453
Capital reserve -                  46,753         44,810             43,800
Capital reserve -                  20,689         61,075             53,223
Revenue reserve                     4,148          3,773              4,511
Equity shareholders'              136,580        170,494            166,055
Net asset value pershare           259.3p         330.7p             315.4p
(note 5)                                                                   

Cash Flow Statement

For the six months ended 31 March 2008

                               (Unaudited)      (Unaudited)          (Audited)
                             31 March 2008    31 March 2007  30 September 2007
                                     £'000            £'000              £'000
Net cash inflow from                 2,078            1,319              4,083
operating activities(note                                                     
Servicing of finance                                                          
Loan and bank overdraft              (795)            (714) (1,376)           
interest paid                                                                 
Financial investment                                                          
Purchase of investments            (1,869)         (12,153)           (15,890)
Sale of investments             14,106                   71                 71
Net cash inflow/(outflow)   12,237         (12,082)         (15,819)          
from financial investment                                                     
Equity dividends paid              (2,527)          (2,068)            (4,251)
Net cash inflow/                    10,993         (13,545)           (17,363)
(outflow)before financing                                                     
Issue of new shares                    469            7,236             10,921
Repurchase of shares into          (2,055)                -                  -
Sale of shares from                  1,677                -                  -
(Repayment)/drawdown of           (10,850)            4,350              4,850
Net cash(outflow)/          (10,759)       11,586           15,771            
inflow from financing                                                         
Increase/(decrease)in cash             234          (1,959)            (1,592)
Reconciliation of net cash                                                    
flow to movement in net                                                       
Increase/(decrease) in cash            234          (1,959)            (1,592)
resulting from cashflows                                                      
Decrease/(increase) in debt         10,850          (4,350)            (4,850)
Movement in debt                    11,084          (6,309)            (6,442)
Net debt at start of period       (24,343)         (17,901)           (17,901)
Net debt at end of period/        (13,259)         (24,210)           (24,343)

Notes to the interim accounts

1.  Basis of Preparation                                                        
    The financial statements have been prepared under the historical cost       
    convention except for the measurement of investments which are valued at    
    fair value, and in accordance with applicable accounting standards and with 
    the Statement of Recommended Practice `Financial Statements of Investment   
    Trust Companies' dated December 2005.                                       
    The same accounting policies used for the year ended 30 September 2007 have 
    been applied.                                                               
2.  Income                                                                      
                                         (Unaudited)     (Unaudited)   (Audited)
                                    Six months ended Six months      Year ended 
                                                     ended           30         
                                       31 March 2008                 September  
                                                       31 March 2007 2007       
                                               £'000           £'000       £'000
    Franked investment income                  2,697           2,507       6,074
    Fixed interest income                         47              72         145
    Money market dividend                         28               -          25
    Bank interest                                  4              12           9
    Total                                      2,776           2,591       6,253
3.  Investment Management, Management and Performance Fees                      
                                          (Unaudited) (Unaudited)      (Audited)
                                           Six months  Six months     Year ended
                                                ended       ended               
                                                                    30 September
                                        31 March 2008    31 March               
                                                             2007           2007
                                                £'000       £'000          £'000
    Investment management fee                     331         262 594           
    Management fee                     137            261         477           
    Performance fee                                 -           -       44      
    VAT thereon*                                   24          92            195
    Total                                         492         615          1,310
    * With effect from 1 October 2007 no VAT has been charged on investment     
    management fees                                                             
4.  Return/(loss) pershare                                                      
    The total return per share is based on the total loss attributable to equity
    shareholders of £27,039,000 (six months ended 31 March 2007: return of £    
    16,348,000; year ended 30 September 2007: return of £10,407,000) and on     
    52,671,134 shares (six months ended 31 March 2007: 50,677,895; year ended 30
    September 2007: 51,438,470), being the weighted average number of shares in 
    The revenue return per share is calculated by dividing the net revenue      
    return of £2,164,000 (six months ended 31 March 2007: return of £1,934,000; 
    year ended 30 September 2007: return of £4,855,000) and on 52,671,134 shares
    (six months ended 31 March 2007: 50,677,895; year ended 30 September 2007:  
    51,438,470), being the weighted average number of shares in issue.          
    The capital loss per share is calculated by dividing the net capital loss   
    attributable to shareholders of £29,203,000 (six months ended 31 March 2007:
    return of £14,414,000; year ended 30 September 2007: return of 5,552,000) by
    the weighted average number of shares in issue as above.                    
5.  Net asset value per share                                                   
    The net asset value per share is based on net assets attributable to shares 
    of £136,580,000 (31 March 2007: £170,494,000 and 30 September 2007: £       
    166,055,000) and on 52,674,423 shares in issue (excluding treasury shares)  
    (31 March 2007: 51,547,423 and 30 September 2007: 52,647,423).              
6.  Transaction costs                                                           
    Purchase transaction costs for the six months ended 31 March 2008 were £    
    22,000 (six months ended 31 March 2007: £80,000; year ended 30 September    
    2007: £108,000).                                                            
    Sales transaction costs for the six months ended 31 March 2008 were £31,000 
    (six months ended 31 March 2007: £nil; year ended 30 September 2007: £nil). 
7.  Reconciliation of net total(loss)/return before finance costs and taxation  
    to net cash inflow from operating activities                                
                      (Unaudited)Six monthsended31 March 2008                   
                           Six months ended 31 March 2007                       
    Year ended                                                                  
    30 September                                                                
    Total (loss)/return before finance charges and taxation                     
    Capital loss/ (return) before finance charges and taxation                  
    Net revenue before finance costs and taxation                               
    Increase in accrued income and prepayments                                  
    Decrease/(increase) in debtors                                              
    (Decrease)/increase in creditors                                            
    Investment management, management and performance fees charged to capital   
    Net cash inflow from operating activities                                   
8.  2007Accounts                                                                
    The figures and financial information for the year ended 30 September 2007  
    are extracted from the latest published accounts of the Company and do not  
    constitute statutory accounts for the year.                                 
    Those accounts have been delivered to the Registrar of Companies and        
    included the Report of the Auditors which was unqualified and did not       
    contain a reference to any matters to which the auditors drew attention by  
    way of emphasis without qualifying the report, and did not contain a        
    statement under either Section 237(2) or 237(3) of the Companies Act 1985.  

                      Finsbury Growth & Income Trust PLC                       


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