Work to re-equip UK and US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan has helped profits to soar at defence group BAE Systems.
The UK’s largest defence firm, BAE made a pre-tax profit of £657m ($1.4bn), compared with £378m a year earlier.
BAE said the “high tempo” of UK and US military operations was increasing demand for land systems to support armed forces overseas.
BAE, which is facing an anti-corruption probe by US authorities, saw its half-year revenues rise by 10%.
The firm said its sales had benefited from its US operations, which achieved organic sales growth of 12% during the period.
Overall sales at BAE’s Land & Armaments business, which includes everything from tanks to munitions, rose 43%.
Water companies are expected to come under fire this week when they report annual profits of nearly £2 billion after imposing above-inflation rises in water bills.
Figures to be published this week by the leading water and sewerage companies will show that all achieved healthy increases in profits.
It will renew accusations that Ofwat has allowed firms to put shareholders’ interests ahead of the needs of customers. The water industry regulator announced in 2005 that the companies could increase prices by more than the rate of inflation on condition that they undertook large-scale investment, such as mending leaking pipes.
However, customer complaints are running at all-time highs, while leakage rates are not improving substantially.
Supermarket giant Tesco has underlined its dominance after posting record profits of £2.55 billion – equivalent to more than £4,800 a minute.
The retailer’s underlying pre-tax profits for the year to February 24 were more than 13% ahead of the previous year, matching analysts’ expectations for the Cheshunt-based company.
HSBC has seen a record annual profit rise of 5 per cent to almost £11.5 billion.
The figure would have been a lot higher, but the banking giant wrote off a substantial amount of bad debt on US mortgages which caused the US division’s personal business to fall by £376.9 million.
In the UK, the bank boosted pre-tax profits by 13 per cent to £1.87 billion, with bad debts down 3 per cent to £796 million.
HSBC’s profit performance brings the combined pre-tax profits posted by the “big five” banks to £37.3 billion in the past two weeks.
Halifax Bank of Scotland profits soared 19 per cent last year to £5.71 billion.
At an underlying level, profits were higher than City expectations, up 14 per cent to £5.54 billion.
The performance includes a 4 per cent rise in profits at the company’s retail banking arm to £2.36 billion.
The top five banks made £4.2 million an hour last year, figures reported in the next three weeks will reveal.
Analysts are expecting HSBC, Barclays, Royal Bank of Scotland, HBOS and Lloyds to post a combined £37 billion of profits for the last financial year; amid renewed concerns about the way they treat their ordinary customers.
HSBC is forecast to unveil a 16 per cent increase in profits to a new record of £12.32 billion. Barclays is set to announce a 30 per cent rise to £6.85 billion.
Royal Bank of Scotland, which owns NatWest, and HBOS, will also reveal record profits.
That equates to a £70,000 profit every minute for the five biggest banks in Britain.
Half-year profits at Royal Bank of Scotland have risen 23% to £4.5bn, but like its UK rivals, it has seen more customers struggle to pay debts.
The firm said charges for individual customers defaulting on debts and loans had risen 19% to £680m.
HSBC, Barclays and Lloyds TSB have all had to set aside more money to cope with customers blighted by rising personal debt levels.
Royal Bank, which owns NatWest, hailed the profit increase as “excellent”.