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The Business Matrix: Thursday 18 April 2013

Drop in profits for Falklands

Fewer cruise ships and less oil-drilling activity will mean a drop in profits from £3.2m to about £3m in the year just ended, the Falkland Islands Company said. The firm, which runs shops, construction and transport services on the islands, added that it still believes "there will be a quantum leap in the economy over the next decade".

Distributor Smiths reports profit rise

Smiths News, Britain's biggest newspaper and magazine distributor, reported a 6 per cent jump in half-year profits to £19.9m yesterday as its policy of diversifying into books and care-products boosted turnover. Its chief executive Mark Cashmore said the newspaper arm's revenue fell 3.9 per cent, partly because of price-cutting.

Marston's profits hit by bad weather

Marston's warned yesterday that first-half profits would not match last year's because it had been hit by bad weather, but added that it expects to more than make up any shortfall in the second half. The pubs group made operating profits of £67.6m in the six months to March 2012, and analysts said this year's could be £1m down.

Barton is the Next easyJet chairman

Budget airline easyJet has drafted in Next's John Barton to replace Sir Mike Rake as chairman in a move that should soothe the board's uneasy relations with founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou. Sir Stelios repeatedly clashed with Sir Mike over aircraft orders and executive pay. Barton, is also chairman of Lloyd's of London insurer, Catlin.

Comparison site's profits in 30% rise

The price comparison website Moneysupermarket said revenues were 13 per cent higher in the first three months of the year, driven by strong growth in insurance, home services and travel. Profits rose 30 per cent despite lower demand in its money channel.

Car sales fall across Europe

A dire month saw new car sales in Europe slump 10 per cent in March and put the industry on course for its worst performance in 20 years, the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association reported. The market is buckling across the eurozone as sales sank for the 18th month in a row.

Mortgage leader settles for $500m

Countrywide Financial, the US mortgage giant rescued by Bank of America at the height of the financial crisis, has settled a mortgage-backed securities lawsuit dating to the crisis, with its investors, led by the Iowa Public Employees' Retirement System, for $500m (£328m).

A monster boost for Mattel

Toy-maker Mattel said its first-quarter net income more than quadrupled to $38.5m (£25.1m), driven by demand for Monster High and American Girl products and softer comparisons with a year earlier. Barbie's worldwide gross sales fell 2 per cent.

Mortgages boost Bank of America

Bank of America said yesterday that it made a profit of $2.3bn (£1.5bn) for the first quarter, a big rise on a year earlier due to growth in mortgages and wealth management. Revenues of $23.9bn were down 8 per cent on a year earlier.

Speedy Hire races ahead with profits

Equipment rental firm Speedy Hire said it expects pre-tax profits to be marginally ahead of forecasts in the year to March 31, as it benefits from its strategy of targeting specific sectors and customers that generate work at attractive margins.

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