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January 30: The Year of the Dog, it sure is. Today brings a pack of profits warnings, the impending takeover of HMV and speculation about a possible takeover of Cable & Wireless.

Isoft, the medical software group, saw its shares plunge more than 40 per cent after it warned of delays to an NHS contract. The company had considered this contract a springboard for international growth. The NHS white paper is due out today.

Filtronic shares fell 30 per cent after the telecoms kit maker reported a first half loss and said it was losing its chief executive after 18 months. John Roulston has resigned “by mutual agreement,” the company said, adding that the chairman and founder, Professor David Rhodes, would revert to chief executive. A new chairman is being sought.

And shares in Alea Group, the reinsurer, fell 20 per cent after saying it expects to make a heavy loss for 2005. This reflects run-off charges and the impact of storm losses. The group says it is at risk of breaching its banking covenants.

HMV is a bright spot today, but for the wrong reasons. Its stock is up 25 per cent after confirming it is the subject of a takeover approach. This is from Permira, the private equity house. This should give us an opportunity to look a bit more closely at the sector’s walking wounded and who might relieve them of their misery.

Very interesting story in the Telegraph this morning: Icelandic billionaire Thor Bjorgolfsson is apparently building a stake on Cable & Wireless. Reuters is also saying today that Bjorgolfsson’s vehicle, Novator, has acquired just under 3 per cent. This could get very interesting. C&W stock is up just over 3 per cent. Check out Forbes - they did an interesting profile of Bjorgolfsson last year.

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