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The Business Matrix: Friday 2 August 2013


Profits surge and value falls at Intu

Intu Properties – the owner of some of the UK’s largest shopping centres, including the Trafford Centre in Manchester – said profits surged to £200m from £78m a year ago. But the group, formerly known as Capital Shopping Centres, saw its net asset value per share, which is a key measure of performance, fall to 377p from 392p.

America shows fresh momentum

The US economy grew far more quickly than expected between April and June, expanding at an annual pace of 1.7 per cent, official figures showed. ING Bank’s James Knightley said data “suggests that the US economy has a bit of momentum”. Revisions to previous data showed the US expanding at an improved rate of 2.8 per cent in 2012.

Theft and rising costs hurt Shell

Rising costs, oil theft in Nigeria and weak US shale liquids production have hurt profits at Royal Dutch Shell RDSa.L, adding both to upward spending and to uncertainty on output.These pressures prompted outgoing chief executive Peter Voser to abandon the company’s target to deliver 4 million barrels a day of production by 2017.

Portmeirion hit by dumping tariff

Portmeirion’s first-half profits dropped 38 per cent to £900,000 after the British pottery firm was hit by the new anti-dumping tariffs on ceramics from China. Although Portmeirion makes much of its china in the UK, it imports cheaper lines from the Far East. Sales rose 4 per cent to £23.8m and the dividend is up 11 per cent.

Trinity Mirror struggles online

Trinity Mirror has suffered an 8 per cent drop in digital revenues in the past six months, underlining the problems the Daily Mirror group owner faces in offsetting falling sales. Online recruitment advertising slumped; chief executive Simon Fox blamed a “wrong decision” to close regional sales offices.

Rathbone zigzags with stock values

Wealth and fund manager Rathbone Brothers saw its profits rise by 17 per cent in the first half of the year to £23.2m as stock markets climbed steadily until May. But June’s sell-off saw its total assets under management end the half at £19.9bn, before moving back above the £20bn mark.

ArcelorMittal cuts yearly forecasts

ArcelorMittal, the steelmaker controlled by billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, yesterday cut its 2013 forecasts because of lower metal prices. It said 2013 earnings were likely to be about $6.5bn (£4.3bn) – lower than previous City forecasts of more than $7.5bn.

Help To Buy will help Countrywide

The UK’s biggest estate agent, Countrywide, has seen 35 per cent rise in underlying earnings to £26.4m in the first half. Further growth is expected with the expansion of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme which the firm says should lead to “increased activity.”

RSA reports UK turnaround

More Than parent RSA Insurance posted a 14 per cent rise in pre-tax profits to £250m in the first half of 2013 and said it was seeing a turnaround in the performance of its UK business. Group net premiums rose to £4.7bn from £4.3bn in 2012.

‘Subdued’ trading affects Aggreko

Temporary power provider Aggreko posted a 2 per cent fall in pre-tax profits to £146m for the six months to June despite a 4 per cent rise in revenues to £760m. The firm said profits here hit by “subdued” trading in its power projects arm.