The Business Matrix: Wednesday 31 July 2013


Profits down a fifth at Drax 

The coal-fired power producer Drax said underlying earnings slumped 22 per cent to £120m in the first half of the year, driven lower by the Government’s move to tax carbon emissions. The firm, based in Selby, North Yorkshire, also blamed the fall on the cost of switching its power output from coal towards biomass.

Hargreaves hires PwC to do books 

Hargreaves Lansdown has dumped Deloitte as its auditor after seven years and appointed rival “big four” accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers following a “rigorous” tender process. But the broker warned that plans to reform the market are unlikely to break the stranglehold of the leading four accountants anytime soon.

Prince George boosts pizza sale

Domino’s claimed the royal baby’s birth boosted sales of its pizzas. The firm, which posted a 14 per cent rise in half-yearly sales,  said: “As Prince George made his appearance, we saw a 20 per cent sales jump versus the previous week, and a 12 per cent rise on the year before. A lot of people watched on TV and wanted someone else to cook.”

US boost for set-top box firm

Set-top boxmaker Pace upped its full-year profit guidance after delivering a 57 per cent jump in underlying earnings to £62.9m in the first half of the year, on revenues 31 per cent higher. The group said growth was boosted by demand in North America, which now accounts for nearly two thirds of all revenues.

Deutsche shrinks to boost capital

Deutsche Bank has warned it will face hundreds of millions of euros in costs for litigation and compliance with new bank rules after reporting weaker-than-expected earnings. The German banking giant plans to cut its balance sheet by 20 per cent, or €250bn, to meet new regulations on capital.

Eurozone morale at 15 month high 

Economic morale in the Eurozone hit a 15-month high in July, further lifting hopes that the 17-member single currency bloc will pull out of recession in the second half of the year. The European Commission’s economic sentiment index rose to 92.5 points in July – its highest since April 2012.

Mining downturn weighs on Weir

The Glasgow-based engineering firm Weir saw pre-tax profits slide 14 per cent to £193m in the first half of the year as demand for mining equipment slowed. But the fall was better than feared, while the group also said it expected revenues and profits to improve in the second half.

Spain on track to grow this year

Spain’s two-year economic slump continued between April and June with a 0.1 per cent decline, but the latest fall was much shallower than the first three months of 2012, when the economy shrank 0.5 per cent. The country is expected to return to growth later this year.

Smartphones lift Wolfson profits 

Wolfson Microelectronics narrowed interim losses by 9 per cent to  £5.7m after a 32 per cent surge in revenues. The audio chip maker said growth in demand was continuing to be driven by the booming smartphone and tablet market.

Tullett Prebon hit by legal fees 

Subdued financial markets combined with higher regulatory and legal fees pushed down profits at broking giant Tullet Prebon in the first half of the year. Profits slipped 5 per centto £62.8 m on revenues 3 per cent lower at £440m.