Weekly stock market round-up

Woolworths also did well – the company, long plagued by poor margins, shoplifting and wayward availability of goods, cut losses to £36.4m in the first half from £46.2m last year. It’s busy planning for the crucial Christmas period, which accounts for around 40% of its annual turnover and as much as 90% of profits.


Kingston Communications, the phone company privatised by Hull city council during the technology boom, has warned on profits again. Although it said overall full-year revenues would be within the current range of forecasts, it conceded that revenues in the key business-to-business division will be below expectations. The company’s chief executive has done the decent thing and resigned. It’s disturbing that, at a time when other operators are sounding more upbeat, Kingston is still losing business, and our previous advice to sell the shares still stands.

Another casualty of a profit warning was Jo Stewart, chief executive of Northern Foods. The company said higher raw material costs and hot weather will knock around 15% off profits this year, prompting Mr Stewart’s departure and a reappraisal of strategy. The company is to sell some of its smaller and lower-growth divisions, starting with Fox’s Confectionery, which was bought by its managers for £9.4m.

The third chief executive on the way out this week was Peter Kenyon, who is leaving Manchester United for a slice of Chelsea’s new-found riches. Chelsea must be hoping that his commercial skills will help create a strong brand image for the club, which would help generate revenue from merchandising and sponsorship. The Blues have a long way to go, though – you don’t see Thai teenagers wearing Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink shirts very often.

Directories business Yell, which listed in July, is to join the FTSE 100 index after the latest quarterly reshuffle. The company dropping out is Kelda, once known as Yorkshire Water. Shares in water utilities generally have been under pressure since United Utilities unveiled a huge rights issue.

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