11 December 1998

Sentry warns of big losses

FARM management group Sentry Farming has warned of a "substantial trading loss" this year due to continued price pressure on crops and livestock and the reduced value of Brussels subsidies.

Last years pre-tax profits stood at £94,000, compared to £1.74m in 1996. However, 1997 profits were retained, helping to maintain a strong balance sheet, says managing director Andrew Mason. "We are in a better position than many individual contract farmers."

By chance, about half the companys contracts are being renewed, he adds. Many were struck during better times, giving landowners a higher share of the profits, while Sentry has seen incomes slump. Payments to landlords in these cases are likely to be revised down.

Shares fell 20.5p after the announcement and finished the week at 42.5p, 61p off the years high. &#42