Thorn EMI results hit a high note

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THIRD-quarter figures from Thorn EMI showed strong profits growth in its music and rentals businesses, but continuing losses in electronics. Pre-tax profits for the nine months to 31 December were 8.3 per cent higher at pounds 301.4m, writes Diane Coyle.

The company also announced that an independent investigation into its US rental subsidiary had found allegations of unscrupulous debt-collecting practices to be incorrect.

Sir Colin Southgate, chairman, said it could be misleading to extrapolate from one quarter's results, and the outcome for the full year would be broadly in line with expectations. Even so, analysts upgraded forecasts and the shares closed up 10p at 1148p.

Sir Colin said: 'Our efforts to refocus our resources on music, rental and HMV continue, as does our programme to divest the security and electronics businesses.'

Operating profits at HMV stores more than trebled, to pounds 6.5m. EMI Music had profits of pounds 212m, 39 per cent higher than the previous year. The rentals division showed steady growth, with profits 12.6 per cent higher at pounds 90.4m despite the bad publicity in the US. Security and electronics made losses of pounds 17.5m.