Dark clouds over Blacks

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August 23: Blacks Leisure has issued its second profit warning in five weeks and been punished with a 20 per cent drop in its share price. Last time, the company blamed the lack of a Glastonbury festival this year and the World Cup. Today, it kept its remarks nice and vague, but you only have to walk down a high street or drop into a supermarket to realise that the market for outdoor wear, rucksacks and uncomfortable folding chairs has broadened out massively. The likes of Halfords, M&S and Tesco all compete with Blacks and Millets in ways they never used to. Russell Hardy, Blacks’s chief executive (and former Archie Norman protégé), has a mountain to climb if he is stave off a bid.

We expect to have more interesting news later on BP, following Sheila McNulty’s story this morning about the fact that a well in the Gulf of Mexico is still leaking, one year after being damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

About 93 barrels of oil have escaped. And what fantastic news about JCB’s diesel land speed record. As Sir Anthony Bamford said yesterday, this a great demonstration of British engineering and I think we can have some fun with this in tomorrow’s paper.

BHP Billiton, benefiting from strong metal prices, reported record full year profits and a $3bn share buy-back. No progress on the Escondida mine strike.

Imperial Tobacco is buying the Davidoff cigarette trademark from Germany’s Tchibo for €540m. Imps has produced Davidoff cigarettes under licence for four years and wants to avoid an increase in royalty payments. The market is unimpressed: the shares are off a touch.

Strong first half figures from Slough Estates. Our property correspondent, Jim Pickard has interviewed the chief executive, Ian Coull. It’s a nice piece to go with the results.

And ITV is selling its stake in TV3, the commercial television channel in Ireland, to Doughty Hanson for £70m. Bit of a yawn: the deal was announced in May.

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