Business briefs: Aga | Photo-Me | News Corp | Personal Assets Trust

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THE maker of the upmarket cast iron Aga cooker grew profits 12 per cent to £8.4 million last year despite severe pressures on consumers.

Aga Rangemaster’s turnover dipped 2.5 per cent to £244.6m as it sold 10,300 cookers – well down on the boom years before the economic downturn when it averaged sales of about 19,600.

The group said new ranges and good export markets helped it increase profits. More than a third of the company’s revenues were generated overseas, helped by good growth in France and Holland. Aga Rangemaster said trading in February had been encouraging.

• Photo booths and amusement machines firm Photo-Me International has disclosed that profits in its traditional slowest third trading quarter between November and January have been much better than a year earlier.

The firm also said the better-than-normal performance in the financial year to date had come despite a “currency headwind”. In its trading update it added that revenues in the operations division had largely trod water but that profits had moved strongly ahead, “helped by exceptional performances in Japan and Germany”.

• Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp revealed yesterday that the publishing arm to be spun off from its entertainment business will have about £1.7 billion in cash, and be carrying no debt, when it is demerged.

News Corp also said that Fox Group, the larger entertainment company, will be responsible for any payments related to the civil cases and any investigations following the phone hacking scandal. The amount of cash the new publishing company will have is more than three times the $741 million (£500m) that the publishing division had as of December 2012.

• Fund managers at the Personal Assets Trust warned yesterday of a “whiff of panic to invest cash at any price” in the current bull market.

The Edinburgh-based trust said complacency was a “major danger” for investors. “Sceptics of the rally have thrown in the towel and started to join in. Savers are now buying assets they would not otherwise buy, at prices they would not otherwise pay,” it warned.

The trust’s net asset value rose by 2.7 per cent compared to a 10.7 per cent rise in the FTSE All-Share index in the four months to 28 February.

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