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The Business Matrix: Thursday 26 July 2012

EasyJet raises profits forecast

EasyJet increased its annual profit forecast yesterday after Britons flocked to book flights to its sunniest destinations – and City analysts hinted a £200m special dividend could be on the way as a result. The budget airline said that every day it rained in the UK, bookings soared, and April to June was the wettest second quarter on record.

Shine wears off at Theo Fennell

Finely crafted scallop jewellery, evil eye and zodiac lucky charms were not enough to ward off losses at the jeweller-to-the-stars, Theo Fennell. The London-based company, which implemented a restructuring earlier this year, said yesterday that it suffered a very difficult Christmas, reporting a £1.2m loss for the year to April.

Li buys Wales and West gas supplier

Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing has bought gas supplier Wales and West Utilities for £645m – almost a year after his Cheung Kong Holdings investment fund bought Northumbrian Water for £2.41bn. Mr Li has acquired utilities here as the regulatory environment makes for predictable returns.

GSK seeks growth after flat sales

Sharp declines in drug revenues in Europe and the US as austerity-struck governments demand cuts saw Britain's biggest pharmaceuticals firm, GlaxoSmithKline, warn of flat revenues this year. It's a blow for GSK, which had set a target of returning to sales growth this year.

ArcelorMittal profits slump

Profits at ArcelorMittal, the steel giant run by Lakshmi Mittal, slumped by almost a third in the second quarter as Europe's continuing debt crisis stymied demand, triggering lower prices. The company was also hit by slowing growth in China.

Yell suffers falling revenues in Q1

Revenues at Yell, the directories group behind the Yellow Pages, dived 15 per cent to £331m, and even digital sales fell 2 per cent in its last quarter. Yell's website is struggling against Google and it is pushing into e-commerce services. Yell is set to be rebranded as Hibü within days, after the change is passed at today's annual meeting.

Drax plunges as investors fret

Shares in Drax crashed by 14 per cent yesterday after traders panicked that the Government would offer notably less financial support than they had been expecting for a switch to low-carbon fuel. That left the owner of the UK's largest coal-fired power station scrambling to insist its investment plans had not been derailed by the move.

Pink set to open first India store

Shirtmaker Thomas Pink is to open its first store in India later this year after nearly quadrupling its annual profits in the UK. The chain, owned by French luxury goods giant LVMH, has teamed up with Indian partner Reliance Brands and is eyeing sites in Delhi and a couple of other Indian cities.

Marston's toasts food performance

The wet weather has dented pub sales across Britain, but Marston's said that families, females and the over-50s still popped down the local for a pint and a pie. The pub company yesterday posted revenues up by 2.2 per cent for the 42 weeks to 21 July.

British Land buys Mayfair office

Developer British Land has snapped up a prized vacant office site in the heart of London's Mayfair for £129.6m. The property firm said it had "another good quarter" with 650,000sq ft of lettings and lease extensions" to 30 June.

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