A rising tide floats all manner of ordure, and in a booming market many a mediocrity can pat himself on the back and accept a bonus that Croesus would have thought ambitious. Everybody looks clever, earnings and share prices behave like the Falcon Heavy, and it’s not until things start to get tough that the difference between quality operations and the also-rans becomes apparent. If there’s one thing that the parlous state of the economy is doing well, it’s winnowing the wheat from the chaff. On the face of it, Italtile’s results may not look too clever, with a 5% increase on Heps that would have had the analysts wailing and gnashing their teeth in a happier time. The company points to sustained subdued economic conditions and sociopolitical uncertainty putting the skids under investment in property in both the public and private sectors. The residential sector had limited new-build growth, while in renovations homeowners spent less both in absolute terms and in frequency. Under the...

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