Morrisons pre-tax loss of £73.7m has left analysts puzzling over where the supermarket group’s profits have gone.

The figure, revealed yesterday in its interims for the 25 weeks to July 24, compared with a profit of £121.6m for the same period last year.

Nathan Cockerell, an analyst from CSFB, said: “We are all worried about the missing millions. Where has the profit gone and how are they going to get it back?”

Another said: “We are really none the wiser. The real issue is where’s the £500m profit’s gone, and we still don’t know. But it’s clearly apparent that the gross margin has deteriorated and the costs are running haywire.”

Philip Dorgan from Panmure Gordon added that the interims were “in effect another profits warning”, while Citigroup said that it saw “few causes for encouragement”.

Morrisons also revealed that like-for-like sales in the core Morrisons estate for the 12 weeks to October 16 were down 5.2% excluding fuel. Operating profit dropped from £168.9m to £50.7m.