Yorkshire listed firms see big increase in profit warnings in 2018

Listed companies in Yorkshire and North East issued 37 profit warnings in 2018, a 32 per cent increase on the previous year, as companies prepare for the worst.

Hunter Kelly, EYs head of restructuring for Yorkshire and the North East

This follows a fourth quarter when 10 companies in the region issued profit warnings, according to EY’s latest Profit Warnings report.

This is up from eight warnings in the third quarter and an increase on the region’s performance in the final quarter of 2017 when seven firms issued warnings.

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Of the 10 warnings made in Yorkshire and the North East, a number of technology companies issued warnings.

Hunter Kelly, EY’s head of restructuring for Yorkshire and the North East, said: “It is particularly significant that we have seen more ‘new’ companies warning in 2018. It demonstrates that there are more wide-reaching pressures and that the rising uncertainty on confidence and demand is having an impact.

“The average fall in share price indicates that investors, like many businesses, are positioning for the worst. Recent events have created further uncertainty and with no obvious end in sight for some of them there is no let-up in the factors that could derail a business plan.”

Rising uncertainty wasn’t the only reason why profit warnings spread in 2018.

The weather and regulatory issues were to the fore, such as the changes to diesel regulation in the automotive sector and increasing gaming regulation. China’s slowdown also particularly hit automotive and technology sales. EY said that rising uncertainty has exacerbated these.

Nationally, one in six quoted companies issued profit warnings in 2018, the second highest level since 2008. In 2018, UK quoted companies issued 287 profit warnings, a rise of 4per cent year-on-year.

In the three months to the end of December 2018, EY recorded 88 warnings (9 per cent higher than the same quarter in 2017), representing the highest fourth-quarter total since 2015. On the day of warning, companies saw their share prices fall by a record average of 22.6 per cent in the fourth quarter,

EY’s report found that 74 per cent of companies issuing profit warnings in the fourth quarter hadn’t warned in the last year - the highest proportion of ‘new’ companies warning in over eight years - significantly more than 52 per cent in the first quarter of 2018.