Early profits prediction well below expectations
Morrisons expects profit before tax, exceptionals and goodwill for the current financial year will be between£50 million and£150 million. The figure falls well below the retailer's profit before tax for the previous year of£317 million and below current market expectations of about£220 million.

The retailer was unable to give a forecast for the year when it announced 2004/2005 year-end results last month, saying that its financial systems were not up to the job. It has enlisted the help of KPMG to alleviate the problem and said at the time that no forecast would be forthcoming until October.

Morrisons' trading has been plagued by the burden of operating two parallel systems to run existing stores and the Safeway stores its acquired last year. So far, analysts have been content to suffer what is now effectively five profit warnings in the past 12 months, with the certainty that once the task of integrating the two businesses together these costs will be removed in 2007.

Analysts also expect Morrisons deputy chairman David Jones to announce the appointment of four non-executive directors to the board to strengthen its retailing skill and knowledge base.

Numis analyst Steve Davies said: 'The stock price is further underpinned by freehold property backing and the prospect that the current woes prompt further management changes. There have been plenty of rumours linking Archie Norman with Morrisons in recent weeks and today's statement will only up the pressure on David Jones to bring in some heavy hitters.'