Whitbread profits climb to pounds 155m

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Figures at the top end of expectations helped Whitbread's shares close 9p higher yesterday at 629p. Analysts said the most encouraging aspect of half-way figures to August was the company's ability to grow sales in a difficult consumer market. After an 8.5 per cent rise in sales from pounds 1.22bn to pounds 1.33bn, profits before tax increased by 9 per cent to pounds 155.7m (pounds 143.1m). Earnings per share of 23.7p (21.6p) allowed a 7.5 per cent increase in the interim dividend from 5.35p to 5.75p.

Investment column, page 26.