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Business IN BRIEF.

HOUSEBUILDERS Galliford Try yesterday said profits would be better than expected after a strong performance from their recent acquisitions.

The firm said contractors Morrison Construction and housebuilders Chartdale Homes had delivered an "excellent" performance in their first year within the group.

They added that the integration of Surrey builders Linden Homes - bought for pounds 244.5million in March - was also progressing well.

Analysts had predicted full-year pre-tax profits of pounds 47.5million but now expect better after yesterday's report.

A REBEL shareholder yesterday forced the resignations of four directors at struggling photo booth firm Photo-Me International.

Principle Capital had pledged to put their call for a boardroom clearout to a vote of shareholders, along with their demand that Photo-Me end a strategic review.

Photo-Me said they would continue with the review and urged Principle - owners of 10 per cent of the company - to withdraw their resolution.

The developments came as pre-tax profits for the year to April slid to pounds 7.4million, from pounds 21million a year earlier.

RETAILERS were yesterday continuing their bumpy ride on the stock market as fears mount over the impact of wet weather and higher interest rates.

Fashion retailers appear to be the hardest hit so far, with most of the big brand names notching up large share price falls.

Ted Baker stock is down 14 per cent over the past 30 days, followed closely by Laura Ashley, down 13 per cent, and Next, off 12 per cent.

Even resurgent Marks & Spencer are down 10 per cent as the group struggle to maintain investor spirits following bumper sales last year.

AROUND 90 per cent of mortgage endowment customers at Norwich Union are still at risk of falling short on their home loans, despite healthy with-profits performance, the insurers said yesterday.

Announcing an investment return of around five per cent for the first half of this year, the insurers said the number of policies in the "red" danger zone remained at around nine in every 10.

But the size of the expected shortfall is coming down.

However, Norwich Union said gains had allowed them to remove all exit penalties from their funds.

OPERATING profits at Sovereign Oilfield Services Group increased from pounds 1.1million to pounds 1.5million, the firm revealed yesterday.

The rise at the Aberdeen company came on the back of a 87 per cent jump in turnover to pounds 51.6million.

During the year, the firm made four acquisitions.

Chairman Dr Peter Felter said the takeovers were all boosting earnings, adding specialist capabilities to the group and providing market share.

He added: "We plan to continue to acquire larger companies with these qualities."
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 3, 2007
Words:440
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