Compass shares head north on profits growth

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Compass sparked a further rally for its shares yesterday after posting half-year results at the top end of City expectations.

The group, which caters for a host of venues including the Jockey Club's racecourses, Chelsea football club and the Wimbledon tennis championships, also reported a slight acceleration in its rate of new business wins.

Compass grew interim profits by 14 per cent to £462m in the six months to 31 March, while revenues on a constant currency basis were 0.9 per cent higher at £7.1bn. As well as £18m of new business growth, which included a deal with the UK insurer Aviva, the company said its operating margin continued to improve.

Its shares rose 5 per cent to a nine-year high of 557p after analysts upgraded their forecasts for 2010. Investec Securities has pencilled in profits of £880m this year and said the company held good medium-term growth prospects.