UK-listed firms posted the highest number of profit warnings in any second quarter since the financial crisis, a new report from accountants EY has found.
A total of 66 firms told the markets they would fall short of earnings' expectations in the three months to the end of June, taking to total number for the past 12 months to 321 - eight per cent up on this time in 2015. In total, 17.6 per cent of all companies have issued at least one profit warning in the last year, up from 16.6 per cent, as sales growth slowed in the face of referendum uncertainty and a weak global recovery.
Only one in ten of the warnings related directly to the EU referendum in the three-month period, though there may well be more on the way throughout the rest of the year.
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"It's been a dizzying unpredictable time since the EU referendum," said Alan Hudson, head of restructuring at EY. "The initial impact of this uncertainty appears to have pushed profit warnings to their highest second quarter total since 2008.
"But ultimately it's hard to separate the Brexit effect from the underlying issues that brought high levels of warnings in previous quarters. Many UK companies still face sluggish, disrupted, competitive markets, with Brexit adding further layers of challenge, but also opportunity."
Travel, leisure and retail were some of the worst hit sectors, behind support services which topped the pile. Retailers have issued a total of eight profit warnings this year, the highest number in five years, while a quarter of all listed travel firms have told investors to revise their expectations.