View from City Road: A new look to our share prices page

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The Independent Online
On Tuesday morning our share prices page will have an unfamiliar look. Where there were 25 sectors into which companies and their shares were classsified there will now be 40. Following a reclassification by the Financial Times and the London Stock Exchange last month, several hundred companies have moved industry sectors while entirely new sectors have been created.

We have decided to follow suit. This will not only bring the Independent's coverage of share prices into line with stock market usage. It will also, we believe, make shares easier to find and the page easier to use.

The reclassification of the FT-SE Actuaries indices in January, in conjunction with the Institute of Actuaries and Faculty of Actuaries, was the first overhaul of the system since 1970. When the Independent was launched in 1986 the previous FT- Actuaries All Share Index classifications were already showing signs of age and we chose to create our own sectors - retailers, for example, instead of drapery and stores.

The new-look FT-SE Actuaries classification is intended to reflect the changes that have taken place in the UK economy over the past quarter of a century. In particular the role of manufacturing has shrunk, while services have prospered.

Privatisation of publicly owned utility companies in the past decade has also altered the face of the stock market. At the same time many companies have changed their main business.

Behind the new classification is a reallocation of the various sectors into up-to-date economic groupings - mineral extraction, general manufacturers, consumer goods, services, utilities, financials and investment trusts.

Many professional investors find it useful to evaluate individual company shares against economic groupings and sectors rather than the market as a whole. So it is important that companies are in the right sector or group.

Not all companies have been happy at their reclassification. Some 170 took the matter up with the FT- SE committee responsible and 85 were rereclassified as a result. Others are still appealing.

On Monday we will print our share prices page in its old format for the last time. The page will spell out how individual shares are to be reclassified from Tuesday onwards.

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