The Business Matrix: w


EasyJet beats City expectations

EasyJet flew still higher yesterday with shares up almost 8 per cent with a stronger-than-expected profit forecast for this year. Most City analysts had pencilled in about £433m pre-tax profit for the 12 months to October. But easyJet now says it expects the figure to be between £450m and £480m with other carriers pulling out of routes.

Heathrow soars back into profit

Selling Stansted airport and levying higher fees on airlines helped Heathrow Airport Holdings, formerly BAA, to swing into profit in the first half. The airport sold Stansted, its Essex hub, in February for £1.5bn but even without the sale, Heathrow turned last year's £70m loss into a £44m pre-tax profit for the six months to the end of June.

National Express slips despite sun

An 11 per cent rise in passengers travelling to the seaside and a record performance on buses and coaches could not stop first-half profits at National Express falling by 14 per cent to £34.3m. The transport giant, which runs school buses in the US, said revenues rose from £934.1m to £956.7m in the half-year to July.

Upgrades boost Carphone sales

Customers upgrading to expensive smartphones proved a boon for Carphone Warehouse during the first quarter. The company, which has just unveiled accessories designed by Kate Moss, said like-for-like sales in Europe rose 10.6 per cent in the four weeks to 29 June.

Head of TalkTalk backs ban on porn

Dido Harding, chief executive of broadband provider TalkTalk, supports the automatic blocking of online pornography. "We don't make a choice for our customers at the moment but we strongly suggest that they keep porn blocked," she said.

Compass hit by European slump

Compass, the FTSE 100 company which caters at Wimbledon and The Oval, saw sales growth slow to 4 per cent in the three months to 30 June as tougher conditions in Europe and Japan offset buoyant markets in North America, Brazil and Turkey.

ARM Holdings rides iPhone wave

The company behind the microchips in Apple's iPhone saw over two billion devices using their chips shipped in the last three months. Cambridge-based ARM Holdings said revenue in the second quarter was up 24 per cent compared with the same period last year.

British Land set for big dividend

British Land is set to pay its biggest dividend for five years as the property giant increases its exposure to a buoyant London market, the firm said. The firm, developing buildings in the capital including the Cheesegrater skyscraper, is raising the divi by 2.3 per cent to 6.75p for the quarter and 27p for the full year.

Sales up 3.5% at Wetherspoon's

Budget pub chain J D Wetherspoon has seen a 3.5 per cent rise in sales over the 11 weeks to July, as the brand continues to improve its performance significantly. Management said the 3.5 per cent rise in like-for-like sales was better than expected and in the year so far, total sales for the company have increased 9.2 per cent.

Criminal charges loom for SAC

US prosecutors are expected to announce criminal charges as early as this week against Steven A Cohen's hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors, which is being investigated for alleged insider trading. The action is anticipated barring any pact with SAC or other reversal of government strategy, the Wall Street Journal reported .