JD Wetherspoon denied rumours of a management buyout and signalled it could make "a significant acquisition". The 643-strong pub chain reported its first full-year profits fall since its 1992 flotation – down 4% before tax and exceptionals to £54.1m. Turnover rose 8% to £787.1m. Like-for-like sales climbed 3.4% but like-for-like profits slipped 0.7%. John Hutson, chief executive, said he hoped a marketing campaign in which Carling lager and Marston’s Pedigree bitter will be sold at £1.49 a pint and Burton bitter at £1.29, would invigorate sales. He vowed to wage war on supermarkets which are increasingly taking the drinks trade away from pubs. He denied the move would fuel binge drinking. It has dropped promotions such as two for the price of one and making doubles cheaper than buying to single spirits. The company plans to open just 15 new outlets next year compared with 94 in 2000-01. Analysts cut their pre-tax profit estimates for the current year to £50m-£52m from £55m-£57m. The shares moved up 2.5p to 247p. The Times 04/09/04 page 46, page 51 (Need to know) Financial Times (Money & Business) 04/09/04 page 1, page 2 (Lombard) The Daily Telegraph 04/09/04 page 29, page 31 (City Comment)