In Brief

Cobham shares nosedive after fifth profit warning

Company could be forced into second rights issue in as many years, say analysts

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Shares in aerospace and defence firm Cobham crashed after it was forced to issue its fifth profit warning in just two years.

In a statement this morning, the company said it "will take millions of pounds of goodwill charges, while revealing it cannot yet give guidance on how it will perform in 2017", says the Daily Telegraph.

Those charges amount to £724m, including a £150m impairment related to its contract to develop a mid-air refuelling tanker for plane maker Boeing.

Underlying profit stripping out these costs and other "one-off" items is expected to come in at £225m for last year, down £20m on the figure it announced in a profit warning last month.

Most worryingly for investors, the company also said it is unable to give any "balance sheet guidance" for 2017, saying "the ability of the group to forecast performance is also not as strong as it should be". 

Garry White, chief investment commentator at broker Charles Stanley, said that could mean the company will announce a rights issue to raise money from investors when it confirms its result on 2 March.

That would follow a £500m fundraising last year and require investors to decide whether to pump more money into the firm or see the value of their current holding diluted.

Cobham's shares were down more than 20 per cent this morning, but have trimmed those losses somewhat to a loss of 14 per cent this afternoon, trading at 115.9p.

The stock is worth less than half of the 256p per share it was in February 2016 and barely a third of the 341p peak reached in 2015, before the spate of profit warnings.

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