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The Business Matrix: Friday 9 March 2012

Chip designer hits fresh high

Shares in Imagination Technologies, the British company that designs graphics chips for Apple mobile devices, hit a record high yesterday, a day after the unveiling of the latest iPad. "Revenue showed good growth against last year," said the chief executive, Hossein Yassaie, referring to sales in the second half of its financial year.

Gay website eyes fund raising

The owner of Gaydar, the gay dating website and radio station, is appealing for external investors and could consider a full sale of the business. QSoft Consulting, the parent company, said "significant cash investment is being sought to help drive the company's global growth ambitions". Gaydar claims to have six million online users.

Female chair for joint maker

Artificial hip and knee-maker Corin appointed a female chairman yesterday. Graeme Hart is to retire in June. Linda Wilding, the senior non-executive director at Corin and a board member since 2006, will become chairman. She also heads the board at hotel toiletry company Pacific Direct.

Kent airport flies towards sale

Manston Airport in Kent has been put up for sale by New Zealand-based Infratil, which also owns Wellington airport and Glasgow's Prestwick airport. PwC has been appointed to assist in the sale of the site, which has a runway capable of accommodating large aircraft.

Supermarket staff bag bonus

Sainsbury's said more than 11,000 staff are to benefit after two Sharesave schemes matured, with the biggest savers set to net more than £3,000 each. Staff were left with an average 29 per cent increase on their savings when the schemes matured.

Cheap money era could be over

The European Central Bank hinted the days of super-low interest rates and cheap money could be drawing to a close. ECB president Mario Draghi said inflation would probably rise through the 2 per cent target this year "with upside risk prevailing". That's central-banker-speak for a warning that further rises are in the pipeline.

Loan book boost for pawnbroker

The country's largest chain of pawnbrokers H&T saw profits rise 14 per cent to £23.5 million while its outstanding loans book increased by 18 per cent to £46.6m. The growth was also fuelled by the 24 per cent leap in the price of gold during 2011, which drove traffic at its 166 pop-up GoldBar units in shopping malls.

Fracking boom helps Hunting

Oil and gas services company Hunting cheered investors with a 70 per cent jump in profits for 2011, fuelled by the US "fracking" boom. It unveiled a pre-tax profit of £79.8m. Sales rose by 44 per cent to £608.8m. The company is benefiting from strong growth in demand from shale oil and gas producers.

Profits up at cinema chain

More bums on cinema seats meant Cineworld posted a 10 per cent rise in pre-tax profit to £33.4 million. Blockbusters including The Hangover Part II and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides helped the chain enjoy a 2.7 per cent rise in box office takings to £242.1m in 2011.

Brewer toasts stronger trading

Spitfire and Bishops Finger brewer and pub owner Shepherd Neame, which is based in Faversham, Kent and dates back to 1698, reported a 4.2 per cent rise in half-year operating profits to £6.7m. Turnover was up 9.2 per cent to £67.4m.

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