Cranswick serves up a sizzling performance

Cranswick has announced latest half-year profits to 30 September, up by 14% to £15.5m on sales also 14% ahead at £248m - both record figures.

The share price fell back as dealers were expecting even better results. Numis Securities is looking for full-year pre-tax profits of £33m for the current year against £29m in 2005-06. Strongest growth came from Cranswick's joint venture Jack Scaife traditional dry-cured bacon, which saw sales crackle up over 70%. Fresh pork, sausages and pre-packed cooked meats delivered sales up by 15%, as customers proved willing to pay premium prices for quality. Cranswick recently scooped up DeliCo for nearly £18m to boost its pre-packed cooked meats operation.

Northern turns the corner with sell-off?

Northern Foods boss Pat O'Driscoll surprised the City by getting much more for the businesses she is selling off than analysts expected. Her target for 40% of the company's operations was £200m. She has sold off Nor-thern's surplus businesses in bread, chilled pastry, cakes and flour mil-ling for £160m to Vision Capital, a private equity group. The cash goes to pay off debts and reduce the pension fund deficit.

Compass puts Selecta division UP for sale

Compass saw revenues from its UK school catering arm slide by 4% as children bypassed the healthier meals on offer and bought junk food elsewhere. Full-year profits rose by 124% to £305m - mainly due to the absence of any one-off hits. Sales rose by 7% to £10.8m. Operating profits rose by £12m, with a profit margin of 4.7%. The group's best market was North America, which accounts for 40% of Compass' business and saw a sales rise of 12%.

Compass boss Richard Cousins has now announced the business is to pull out of 30 low-contribution markets and is putting its Selecta operations up for sale. The food and drink vending division, selling to 5m consumers daily, could fetch between £500m to £600m. So far, Compass has made £1.8bn from selling off various businesses, such as the Moto motorway service station business. The company is halfway through its market withdrawal and, when completed, will lose less than 1% of sales and up to £2m of profit.