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Profits spike at Kingfisher

KINGFISHER, Europe&rsquo;s largest home improvement retail group, yesterday rushed out first-half profit figures following an administrative error, though the better-than-expected results cheered investors and sent its shares to a two-year high.<br /><br />The group, which owns B&amp;Q in Britain and Castorama in France, said it expects to report an underlying pre-tax profit of between &pound;285m and &pound;290m for the six months to 1 August, comfortably ahead of the consensus analyst forecast of &pound;268m and the &pound;214m it made over the same period last year.<br /><br />Kingfisher was forced to put out the statement to the stock exchange after draft figures were leaked on Monday afternoon. It is due to release official interim results on 17 September.<br /><br />&ldquo;As normal, Kingfisher will provide more detail on the first half, along with an outline of its plans for the balance of the year, in what is expected to be a challenging trading environment,&rdquo; the group said.<br /><br />Analysts at Credit Suisse, Kingfisher&rsquo;s joint house broker, said they expected market consensus profit estimates for the full year to move into the &pound;460m-&pound;470m range, an increase of around eight per cent. They added that the firm was benefiting from favourable weather patterns, capacity withdrawal and cost containment in Britain, better-than-expected margins in France and further resilience of the Polish market.<br /><br />Kingfisher shares hit an early high of 230p on the London Stock Exchange, but fell back over the course of the day to close half a per cent higher at 218p.<br /><br />The stock has risen nearly 60 per cent over the past year, outperforming the DJ Stoxx European retail index by 48 per cent.