Profit warnings spike again

There were 287 profit warnings in 2012, the worst year for UK-listed companies since the height of the financial crisis.

Ernst & Young's latest quarterly profit warnings report counted 86 issued in the last three months of last year. More than 15 per cent of UK quoted companies issued warnings in 2012, only slightly down on 2008, the worst year on record, when there were close to 18 per cent.

The industrial sector was hit hardest. The FTSE electronic & electrical components and FTSE industrial engineering sectors both issued 17 warnings in 2012.

Alan Hudson, the head of Ernst & Young's restructuring team in the UK, said: "Falling economic expectations and rising uncertainty led to falling demand across industrial sectors, especially in the final quarter of last year. Slower-than-expected demand from China in particular landed heavy blows on companies reliant on emerging market growth."

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