Autologic shares have crashed 17% after the car transportation group warned difficulties in France had dented profits, a Daily Telegraph report said. AutoLogic shares fell 47.5p to 227.5p – an 18-month low.

Losses from its French operations reportedly more than doubled in the first half to £2.4 million after a decline in registrations and dealers opting to stock fewer vehicles.

According to the paper, Philip Nuttall, finance director, said investors “were not surprised, but they are disappointed we are saying we cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel for France”.

AutoLogic reportedly said pre-tax profits in the first half had fallen from £8.6 million to £5.2 million, while turnover dipped from £191.9 million last year to £181.1 million.

AutoLogic also provides storage for vehicles and can inspect and valet cars on their way to showrooms, the report noted.

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According to the Daily Telegraph, Nuttall said: “Basically, the market in terms of car registrations has been less in France than in the rest of Continental Europe. In the past, it has been a relatively stable market, but this year there is more volatility. In January, car registrations were down 11.9%, but, in June, they were 6.3% up. We wish we knew what the problem is.”

He reportedly added that one of AutoLogic’s biggest clients, Gefco, which provides logistics for PSA Peugeot Citroen, had decided to take much of its work in-house.

Cazenove, AutoLogic’s house broker, was asked whether the company would be able to return to the profitability of two years ago, when operating profit in the core business was £23.1m for the year, the Daily Telegraph said. Cazenove reportedly concluded the company’s recovery would only see operating profits reaching £14.4 million in 2005.