It seems I might have to revise my list of hard nuts of the industry. The Crest Nicholson boss has suffered a rather embarrassing injury. My spies tell me that Callcutt now sports something of a limp, following a trip to, of all places, Estonia.
By all accounts, Callcutt was merrily wandering through Tallinn, the capital of the Baltic state, when he slipped on the ice, breaking his ankle. Yikes!
Callcutt's mood will not have been improved by Crest Nicholson's sluggish stock market performance last week. By close of play Friday, Crest Nicholson had imitated its chief executive with a fall of its own – a share price drop of 0.4% to 353p.
Pidgley also had a bad week. Berkeley's shares were down 2.6% to 907p. This came after I'd tipped Berkeley to have a good week. Although my other tip – that Peter Andre would hit number one with Mysterious Girl – did come off.
The chaps and chapettes in the City were far more reverential to the final member of my trinity of tough cookies, Doughty. Costain performed strongly last week, rising 8.5% to 44.75p. This reflects what has already been a successful year for the firm, having been part of the consortium that won the £38m Caerphilly County Roads PFI scheme in south Wales a couple of months back.
Aukett fell last week, but it will bounce back if the MBO rumour gathers momentum
Hunch of the week
It wasn't such a good week for its consortium partner, Laing, however. Its shares fell 0.7% to 190.75p.
Costain seems to have benefited in the past nine months or so from its very public intention to win work in Iraq. It has been negotiating with the Kurds in the north for some time.
Another company pitching for work there is Amec. Last month it won a major power contract in Iraq with US partner the Fluor Corporation. It had another solid week on the exchange, rising 2.1% to 282p.
Another riser was housebuilder Wilson Bowden. But a 0.9% increase to 1090p doesn't seem a fair reflection on what was a good week for the company. It announced a pre-tax profit of £223.3m for 2003, up 25% on the previous year. Turnover was up £200m to £1.2bn.