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Profit warnings up in support services, down in construction

THE NUMBER of profit warnings issued by companies in the support services sector of the stock exchange rose in the first quarter of this year, according to research from business advisors Ernst & Young.

Alan Bloom, partner in E&Y's corporate restructuring services, said: 'The disparate nature of this sector makes generalisations difficult but it appears that all these companies are being affected by caution among their larger clients, a view supported by the high proportion of them citing contract delays as a key problem.'

In the first three months of 2002, 12 support services firms issued warnings against 10 in the previous quarter. Three were construction-related:

plant hirers Ashtead and Baldwins, and safety harness manufacturer Latchways.

Warnings in the construction sector dropped from five to three, namely brickmaker Baggeridge, and house builders Prowting and MJ Gleeson.

Gleeson was one of only two firms on the whole market to issue multiple profit warnings. It issued two cautions to the City over problems at its house building arm.