Profits plummet one third for top UK businesses

DESPITE a rise in revenues, some of the UK’s top companies saw profits plunge in the year to March, slumping by a total of 33.8 per cent in comparison to 2012.

In the 12 months up to the end of the first quarter, 62 of the country’s biggest firms earned £16.6bn in profit after tax, a sharp fall from £25.1bn a year earlier.

The Share Centre looked at the FTSE 350 companies whose financial years end in March, finding that revenues had ticked up by 4.1 per cent, up to £360.4bn. However, like-for-like sales inched up by only one per cent.

The research attributes big write-downs by Vodafone and Tesco with much of the nosedive in profits, which knocked £9.2bn off the profits of the 62 firms.

However, there was some good news for the financial sector. Though few financial services firms report their annual performance after the first quarter, those that did saw a 29.7 per cent rise in net profits.

Overall, for the entire FTSE 350, results are still weak, with a 1.8 per cent rise in rolling revenue growth over the past 12 months, while profits for the index fell by 0.2 per cent.

Helal Miah of the Share Centre commented: “Sales growth of one per cent, well behind inflation, is meagre at best, and margins have been under pressure across the board.”