Analysis of UK Profit Warnings

EY has tracked profit warnings from UK registered companies listed on the UK’s Main Market or AIM for 20 years, giving us powerful insight into business, capital and the UK economy. 

What is a profit warning?

A profit warning is an official statement to the stock exchange from a publicly listed company that says that it will report full-year profits materially below management or market expectations.

Our analysis:

Our analysis provides you with insights into profit warning trends and key economic, sector and market issues facing UK businesses. You can delve into the latest quarter’s findings, access twelve years’ worth of data at the click of a button using our console or understand the trends of the past 20 years to identify the forces affecting your market and shape your path ahead.

Q4 2019 Headlines   

UK quoted companies issued 78 profit warnings in Q4 2019, taking the annual total to 313 – the highest since 2015. The percentage of companies warning in 2019 hit 17.8%, just surpassing 2008’s figure at the peak of the financial crisis.

Political uncertainty, rising geopolitical tensions and a global economic slowdown drove warnings higher in 2019. Industrial and financial sectors saw the biggest increase, whilst sectors exposed to consumers’ discretionary spending continued to issue a high level of profit warnings.

Underlying this exceptional level of warnings is the ongoing disruption of industry landscapes that has left companies behind – and vulnerable to headwinds. Companies need to be continuously evaluating their business strategies to optimise their performance in the face of constant change.

In 2019

17.8%

of UK quoted companies issued profit warnings

In Q4 2019

22%

of profit warnings cited domestic or geopolitical uncertainty

In 2019

33%

of FTSE Retailers issued a profit warning

In 2019, we recorded

27%

more FTSE Industrials sector profit warnings than 2018

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Q4 2019 Report

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What can 20 years of profit warning data tell us?

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