United Utilities Drops the Most in 5 Years After Beating Index

United Utilities Group Plc led declines among water utilities in London trading as investors sold shares with smaller losses this year than those in other industries.

United Utilities, the U.K.'s biggest water company, dropped the most in more than five years, slipping 47 pence, or 7.5 percent, to close at 577 pence, the lowest since December 2004. The Warrington, England-based utility was the tenth-biggest loser today in Dow Jones Europe Stoxx Utilities Index.

``With utilities generally, they've held up very well over the past few months'' Angelos Anastasiou, an analyst at Pali International Ltd. in London, said by phone today. Anastasiou, who rates United Utilities ``neutral,'' said investors may try ``to lock in whatever performance you've had relative to where the rest of the markets have gone.''

The FTSE 100 Index plunged 35 percent this year amid a global credit crisis in which financial companies racked up more than $590 billion of credit losses and asset writedowns. United Utilities slid 16 percent in the period.

Pennon Group Plc, water supplier to 1.6 million people in southwest England, today lost 7.4 percent to 491 pence, taking its decline this year to 27 percent. Severn Trent Plc, which has fallen 26 percent in the period, closed down 6 percent at 1,124 pence.

United Utilities spokesmen Dominic Fry and Tom Murray weren't immediately available for comment. Severn Trent spokesman Peter Hewer declined to comment when contacted by phone today, as did Pennon spokeswoman Sally Hogan.

Northumbrian Water Group Plc gained 0.3 percent to close at 253.5 pence after yesterday plunging 8.3 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Nicholas Larkin in London at nlarkin1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss on sev@bloomberg.net

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