Market report: A dismal week for Rank as a catalogue of woe unfolds

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The Independent Online
Its been a dismal week for the Rank leisure group and its chief executive Andrew Teare. On Monday the shares were 343p; yesterday they fell 17p (after 21.5p) to 307.25p, lowest since 1994.

The group has been battered by negative weekend comments and a profits warning from Planet Hollywood, a rival to its Hard Rock Cafe chain. Then came the bingo discomfort of First Leisure and the off-tune profits warning from EMI, the showbiz group.

The catalogue of woe comes on top of growing stock market doubts about the direction of the bingo to cinema group. Next month it is due to produce year's profits - around pounds 298m is the consensus. Such a figure would compare favourably with the previous year's depressed pounds 65m but represent little progress on a few years ago.

The EMI warning, sending the shares sliding 48.75p to 430p, is the latest illustration of the Far Eastern turmoil cutting into profits. Earlier this week Diageo, the international drinks cocktail created by the GrandMet merger with Guinness, moaned about the Asian impact on sales. Its shares fell 21.5p to 530p. They started the week at 565p.

The Tiger turmoil, weak oil shares and a poor New York display on worries about the future of the Clinton administration combined to erode Footsie, which ended 71.7 points down at 5,181.4.

Oils continued to suffer from weak crude prices, underlined by lower fourth quarter profits from Shell's US arm. Shell fell 16p to 487.5p and British Petroleum 33p to 746p. Enterprise Oil lost 15p to 514p but Lasmo, again buoyed by takeover hopes, restricted its fall to 1p at 249p.

Telecoms buzzed again although BT was on a party line of its own, falling 14p to 569p after Thursday's excitement. In early trading the price touched 597.5p. Turnover was again brisk.

Orange put on 3.5p to 296.25p and Cable and Wireless, on hopes of a BT strike, rose 18.5p to 552p. COLT Telecom, spurred by Salomon Smith Barney interest jumped 59p to 870p.

Burton, the retailing group, actually went for the proverbial Burton when the market closed with the shares up 5.25p to 151.25p. On Monday trading starts in the demerged businesses, Arcadia, the collection of high street shops, and the Debenhams department stores chain. SG Securities forecasts Arcadia producing profits of pounds 82m this year and Debenhams pounds 136m.

Northern Foods ended 8p higher at 288p after confirming it was considering demerging its dairy operation. Cadbury Schweppes edged forward 7.5p to 699.5p, still reflecting its Coca-Cola deal.

Some hard hit shares bounced. BTR struggled off its year's low with a 5.5p gain to 157.5p. Supporting hopes that the worst may be over were a number of late deals, one a purchase of 3.87 million shares, at 160p.

Pilkington, the glass maker, rose 5p to 111.5p, and battered and bewildered Laura Ashley added 5.5p to 34p compared with the 20p touched after the threadbare figures appeared. Oasis Stores rallied 25.5p to 150p; a year ago the shares were 421.5p.

Financial shares managed scattered gains. Northern Rock improved 3.5p to 612p ahead of next week's results; Halifax closed 27p higher at an 829p peak after touching 841p.

Shield Diagnostic jumped 105p to 777.5p; it has, after weeks of rumours, at last signed a licensing agreement for its AFT heart attack test with US drugs group Abbot Laboratories. There are suggestions that Shield's royalty from each AFT test could be around 75p.

Morgan Crucible, the engineering group, fell 4p to 412.5p as profits downgrades appeared. Charterhouse Tilney has cut its estimates by up to 10 per cent because of the group's exposure to Korea and Thailand. It is looking for pounds 111.9m for last year and pounds 116m this year.

Weather Action hardened 2.5p to 82.5p after confirming it is in expansion talks. It said it was negotiating to create a "new weather service in association with a major US operation".

Delyn, a little property group, put on 2.5p to 117.5p as Apollo Sales & Marketing lifted its stake to 23.57 per cent, buying 776,000 shares. On Thursday merchant banker Dawnay Day took a 9.27 per cent interest.

Telewest Communications shaded to 78.5p after US West said it was thinking of increasing its 27 per cent stake in the British cable operator.

Aromascan, the electronic nose concern, firmed 2p to 13.5p. The 4.9 per cent stake sold this week was largely picked up by a private client stockbroker.