Animalcare Falls like Cats and Dogs as Pet Owners Economise

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Byline: Toby Green

WE might be a nation of animal-lovers, but our passion for our pets seemingly has its limits.

In what one could call a purrfect storm, as economic pressures increase owners seem keen to keep a tighter rein on spending than on their pets.

Today, veterinary medicines firm Animalcare announced its microchip business was continuing to suffer because of the economic climate, with sales down by almost a third over the financial year so far.

Good news for those who believe in an animal's freedom to roam but unwelcome for the AIM-listed group which, having formerly expected improvements in the second half, had to admit the Square Mile's forecasts would be too optimistic.

The profits warning left the group in free-fall, with its share price slumping 24p -- or 14.12% -- to 146p. Although house broker N+1 Brewin tried to put a brave face on things -- claiming its veterinary medicines business was purring along nicely -- it still slashed its earnings forecasts for this year and the next by 14% and 9% respectively.

After seeing a late rally in trading last night on Wall Street, traders in the City were hoping stocks on this side of the pond would follow their American cousins up. Having lost all of the previous two days' gains yesterday, the FTSE 100 did move higher -- advancing 42.95 points to 5309. …