Management clearly don’t believe in the firm’s prospects either; between the CEO and CFO, they own a relatively modest £250,000 worth of shares, despite earning almost £3m between them over the last two years. This is a very low shareholding for a FTSE 250 management team. Mind you, the shares have delivered a zero total shareholder return over five years, even after including dividends, while the comparable FTSE 250 average total return is almost 400pc.
Other parts of the accounts make me nervous. Occasionally companies make an exceptional profit or loss, which is shown separately in the accounts because it is a one-off. De La Rue has made an exceptional loss in each of the last nine years. In my view, that is not exceptional, nor a one-off, but ongoing trading problems that management are trying to present in a different manner.