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Retro is the name of the game

Attempting to assess London’s quoted companies via the prism of conventional value investing might seem like stepping through a time warp. What could be more ridiculous? But if Agnetha and Anni-Frid, Bjorn and Benny can revive Abba, who’s to say that value investing can’t once more be the name of the game?

And, by happy coincidence, just as the Swedish super troupers were announcing a digital version of themselves to give concerts, along came an avatar of value investing, Camellia (CAM), with first-half results for 2021.

Actually, to compare Camellia with 1970s pop is to make the venerable company seem too modern. Being reminded that Camellia is still up and running is like being told TS Eliot is alive and well and writing poetry somewhere in Bloomsbury. Camellia belongs to a time when there were London fogs, trolley buses, the remnants of empire and, most of all, plantation companies whose shares provided annuities for the rentier classes. Because Camellia – there is a hint in the name – is chiefly a plantation company; 85 per cent of its approaching-£240m annualised revenue comes from its agricultural operations, mostly tea production in India, Bangladesh and east Africa.

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