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Soldiers and school kids help Compass beat slump

COMPASS Group,the world&rsquo;s biggest caterer, showed its recession-proof credentials yesterday, posting a 33 per cent profit rise which topped market expectations and propelled its shares to a seven-year high.<br /><br />The company, which feeds office workers, soldiers and schoolchildren, said underlying pre-tax profit for the year to end September reached &pound;784m, up from &pound;589m the year before as it benefited from new business wins, a weak pound and cost cutting.<br /><br />Market expectations had ranged between &pound;715m and &pound;788m, with the consensus at &pound;764m.<br /><br />Shares in Compass, which have risen by 37 per cent since the start of the year, closed up by 6.29 per cent to 427.3p.<br /><br />The group, which counts Chelsea Football Club and London&rsquo;s 02 arena among its clients and provides catering services to 17 of the 20 biggest banks in the City of London, said full-year revenue totalled &pound;13.4bn , up 17.5 per cent.<br />