How construction companies fared in the City in the week to 20 November 2000
The materials sector took a bit of a beating this week on the back of a profit warning from Hanson. One of the more respected of the UK players, Hanson cited bad weather and high energy costs as reason for the decreased profit expectation. Its immediate drop, by 37p to 334p, had a domino effect on other material stocks. RMC slipped by 18p to 602p, Wolseley dropped 6p to 398p and Aggregate Industries edged down by 2.25p to 67.75p earlier this week.

Those analysts who had been predicting that petrol prices and the floods would hit materials producers responded by crying "I told you so." "I can't understand why they've been going up in the last few weeks," said one relieved stock-watcher.

Yet in the longer term, there could be better times ahead for the sector as a whole. One analyst said that once weather delays are overcome there could be a frenzy of construction activity early next year. "There is still the demand for houses, roads and tracks," as another analyst confirmed.

This is why some watchers are advising clients to buy construction stocks while they are at their present, discounted rate. This could be just what the sector needs after less than positive news from Laing and Christiani & Nielsen.