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Acorn shares "good value"

And why the company is worth less than its stake in ARM

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Why oh why is Acorn’ s capitalised at £35 million less than the 26.8 per cent stake it holds in ARM, the RISC chip wonder stock, asked bemused shareholder R.S. Grewal of London, in a letter to this week’s Investors Chronicle. "I have looked into all the other factors such as debt," he writes, "but apart from the fact that Olivetti at the end of June disposed of most of their shareholding in Acorn, I cannot see any other good enough reason to justify the slide". Except that – as Investors Chronicle helpfully points out – Acorn’s holding in ARM is subject to a £40 million tax charge – which the market has factored into the company’s pitifully low share price. RS Grewal argues that Acorn’s future must be brighter than ARM – as it is employed "in more interactive digital TV trials worldwide than any other". At least he has the good sense to refrain from mention that technological cul-de-sac the Acorn RISC PC (just a little joke for all our fans in the Acorn community). But Investors Chronicle replies that "while a case can be argued for the potential of Acorn’s new products, they have yet to earn profits which makes any investment a speculative one". It points out that the company has "an operating loss of £5.6 million and hasn’t made a real profit since 1993". Nevertheless, the magazine rates Acorn’s shares as good value. Supported by the ARM stake, the company represents an "opportunity", it says. ®

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