UK corporate profitability hit 10-year low in late 2019

The spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in London

LONDON (Reuters) – British companies’ profitability dropped to its lowest in more than a decade in the final three months of 2019, when concerns about Brexit and political uncertainty – rather than the coronavirus – were to the fore, official data showed on Tuesday.

The net rate of return for private non-financial companies dropped to 9.3% in the fourth quarter from 9.8% in the third quarter of 2019, its lowest since the second quarter of 2009, when the economy was in the depths of the financial crisis.

“A rise in the net capital employed coupled with a fall in the net operating surplus led to the downward movement in the net rate of return,” the Office for National Statistics said.

(Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Louise Heavens)