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Ian Pollard – Democracy Died Last Night

A referendum is one of the highest and truest forms of decmocracy. That is why they are absolute anathema to the unelected dictators of Brussels who would not recognise an election if they saw one staring them in the face. That is why the EU demagogues, those of them who remain sober and capable of standing up, have forced one European country after another to reverse the result of every referendum they have held. And now we have joined them in disgrace, as the destroyers of democracy. The British who have one of the longest  histories of parliamentary democracies in the world, have seen their MPs refuse to accept the will of the people and overturn the common decision reached two years ago that there was a majority in favour of Brexit.

It matters not whether that majority was right or wrong. It is the principal which matters. The people were not only allowed to decide, they were asked by Parliament to decide. The government then descended into chaos as MPs began to jockey for position. Ministers abandoned their posts almost every week, looking for aggrandisement and opportunites for self advancement. Led by the weakest leader the country has ever seen since King Harold failed to turn the tide at Hastings in 1066, we became a laughing stock throughout Europe as country after country sought to avenge  slights, real or imagined, such as freeing them at great cost from the horrors of fascist domination, with which so many of them happily collaborated.

The jostling for position amongst ministers over the past two years has been a disgrace. They resigned from government one day as a matter of principal, only to rejoin it the next day as they saw better opportunities to get higher up the ladder before they finally brought about the collapse of the government of which they were supposed to be such loyal members.

Ministers have never been so happy as they day on which they realised that Brexit meant the end of Human Rights legislation in the UK. Ministers could not hide their joy as they saw a possible end to the European court, little realising that before we joined Europe, we were the only country in Europe which had no statutory human rights. Did these empty headed numpties want to see Maggie Thatchers mounted police literally riding down unarmed miners fleeing from them across the fields of Orgreave, Did they really want to see Arthur Scargills hordes closing down pits, and power stations and much of British Industry as he plunged Britain into the darkness of the three day week and saw Downing Street as his weekend holiday home..Their faces lit with glee as they saw the emasculation of the European court. The very same Europan court which has just  ordered thousands and thousand of judges to be restored to the positions from which newly elected governments in Poland and Hungary had illegally removed them.

There was far more to Brexit than trade and economics. The deliberate trampling down of the democratic rights of the British people in last nights embarassing farce puts those responsible on the same level as the unelected bureaucracies of Brussels and the toothless gravy trainers of Strasbourg, Brexit is now dead.

Ian Pollard – Persimmon #PSN new house price inflation falls to 1%

Persimmon plc PSN claims to have delivered another strong trading performance in 2018 with total Group revenues of £3.74bn., 4% higher than the previous year. A little cloud in the sky appeared in the shape of the average selling price  increased by only 1%, which from memory is the lowest for many a year and not something which housebuilders welcome because they think it indicates the market is weak and they can not sell their houses. Housebuyers however can see it as a very good thing which eases the burden of above inflation price increases which the builders used to impose with such glee. Forward sales at 31 December were 3% ahead of 2017 which shows the benefit for the builders of more stable prices. Pre-tax profits for 2018 are expected to follow a similar pattern and be modestly ahead of current market consensus.

Savills plc SVS experienced a robust closing quarter and produced growth in both revenue and underlying profits for the full year. The residential business continued to perform well in challenging market conditions. These achievements came against a backdrop of heightened uncertainty through the last quarter as Brexit, US trade policy produced concerns.

Games Workshop GAW continues to be in great shape says the CEO as the interim dividend is increased from 61p to 65p for the six months to the 2nd December after Revenue rose from £109m. to £125m. Basic earnings per share for the half year have grown from 96p per share to  100.8p

Spirent Comm PLC SPT updates for the final quarter  to the 31 December and for the year in full. Revenue for the full year grew by 6% and good momentum continued into the final quarter.On an adjusted basis operating profit is expected to show a 30% increase on the previous year, exceeding market expectations and demonstrating a year of strong profitable growth.

Telit Communications TCM expects revenue for the year to the end of December to show strong profitable growth Aadjusted operating profit is expected to exceed  market expectations with a rise of some 30% on the previous year. Shareholder approval for the proposed sale of the automotive division is expected to be obtained on the 29th January and completed on the 31st January.The Executive Chairman claims that over the last few months, the Group has delivered double-digit revenue growth, and improved profitability over the year. The financial performance is expected to be improved further in 2019.

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Ian Pollard – JD Sports Grows Internationally With Significant US Progress

JD Sports Fashion JD  reports total sales growth of 15% for the cumulative 48-week period to 5 January as it makes further significant progress in its international development. Gross profit margins have been maintained at last year levels. In the second half the first two stores in Thailand were opened plus  the first five JD stores in the United States. Group profit before tax for the year ended 2 February  will be at the upper end of published market expectations.

Page Group plc PAGE The fourth quarter Group gross profit growth of 15.4%  was a record. All four regions delivered growth,with 20 countries growing by over 20% each. Gross profit before tax of 15.9% for the full year was also a record.and expected to be at the upper end of published market expectations. the UK proved a laggard but still managed to deliver a second consecutive quarter of marginal growth, up 2.1% whilst Michael Page declined by 1%, compared to Brazil and Latin America with rises of 25% and 28%.  In Europe, Germany managed growth of 28%.

Dechra Pharmaceuticles DPH traded strongly during the six months to the end of December, with reported net revenue up by 18% and both Europe and North America showing identical increases. The CEO confirms that the company is contining to deliver above market revenue growth in both its  existing business and in its acquisitions, in line with the Board’s expectations.

Surgical Innovations SUN enjoyed significantly stronger trading in the second half of the year to 31st December and Group revenue for the full year should represents growth of approximately 25% or £11.0m.

Avingtrans AVG has continued to perform well in the first half of the financial year and is trading in line with market expectations. The prospect pipeline for the HT businesses is robust. Recent acquisitions are also integrating well. and Brexit is Brexit is not expected to have a material impact on the company’s operations operations

 

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Ian Pollard – Can Marks #MKS remain independent?

Marks & Spencer MKS looks like it has definately claimed top position as 2018’s big time Christmas loser. In the 13 weeks to the 29th December International sales collapsed by a frightening 15% which is not surprising when you look firstly at the poor service offered by some of its overseas stores and more importantly the fact that it started a major sales effort weeks before the advent of Christmas, having been forced into an offer of 20% off everything you see. Overall, group sales were down by what must have been a very disappointing 3.9%. Steve Rowe blames well publicised market conditions and then a full menu of management failures plus the combination of reducing consumer confidence, mild weather, Black Friday, and widespread discounting by competitors, all of which he claims made November a very challenging trading period. A list of major failures like that makes Marks future as an independent company, look decidedly dodgy.

Tesco TSCO Enjoyed a strong Xmas in the UK & and Republic of Ireland with Christmas like for like sales sales up by 2.6% and outperforming the UK market  in both volume and value terms. This applied in all key categories: food, clothing and general merchandise. In the third quarter the rise was 1.9%. Booker was particularly strong with third quarter sales rising by 11% and Christmas up by 6.7%. In Central Europe claims that the quality of the business is continuing to improve are hardly born out by by the figures which show increasing falls in each quarter as the year  progressed. The first quarter showed a fall of 1%, the second 2% and the third 3%.

Asia looked a bit like a disaster area with third quarter sales down by 8% nearly equalling the first quarters 9% but Christmas fighting back strongly with a a decline of only 2.8%. Strangely enough, online like-for-like sales did not enjoy the surge in sales of  some of its competitors, with the  increase over the Christmas period being a comparatively modest 2.6% over the Christmas period. It looks like Tesco still still knows how to get its shoppers out of their armchairs and into its stores.

Halfords Group HFD The 14-week period to 4 January 2019 was one of overall decline. Every part of the business saw sales fall on a like for like basis except for Autocentres and Travel Solutions. Car maintenance led the way with a drop of 4.6%. Again management sees no fault in itself and drags out the usual suspects, as being  responsible for the disappointing performance – mild weather and weak consumer confidence. In fact these two factors have become so important as face savers for Halfords management that the Chief Executive, thinks one mention is not enough and  it is worth bringing them in for a second just in case the board and the shareholders did not get the message the first time round.

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Ian Pollard – Sainsbury #SBRY board reduced to Meaningless Twaddle.

Sainsbury J plc SBRY You know that Sainsbury has a serious problem when the best which it can find to say about Chistmas is that Convenience stores hit a new record on Christmas Eve. Management gives the impression that it is lost for words and so it should be. It has been absolutely trounced during the Christmas quarter by that Bradford upstart and arch enemy, Morrisons.The only explanation it can manage to offer is the stunning “Retail markets are highly competitive and very promotional and the consumer outlook continues to be uncertain.” I think most people apart, apparantly from Sainsbury’s management, already knew that.

For the 15  weeks to the 5th January total retail sales fell by 0.4% and like for like retail by 1.1%. Grocery did do better with a rise of 0.4%, whilst as a continuing sign of the times, Grocery online and Convenience positively surged by 6% and 3% respectively. The company has had to admit that it could not compete on General Merchandise because the market is highly competitive and promotional and sales declined by 2.3% with margins under pressure.

Sainsburys does however have a solution. It has a new priority. It is going to “further enhance its differentiated food proposition” – in other words management will, as usual in these circumstances, seek refuge in jargon in the hope that nobody will notice it has been reduced to meaningless twaddle as a first line of defence.

Taylor Wimpey TW produced another strong performance in the year to the 31st December. Home completions increased by 3%  and 3,416 affordable homes were delivered as against 2809 in 2017. What happened to the unaffordable homes, nobody bothers to say. Presumably they were dumped in Barnsley. The overall average selling price remained flat at £264k which is never a sign of a boyant market.The order book did however rise strongly during the year from 7,136 homes in 2017 to 8,304 homes in 2018.

Ted Baker TED increased sales by 12.2%  in the five week period from 2 December 2018 to 5 January 2019. E-commerce sales did even better with an increase of 18.7%  and now account for 25.7% of total retail sales. The company regards this as a good performance attained despite the “continuing challenging external trading conditions across its markets.”

Greggs plc GRG With fourth quarter total sales up 7.2%  Greggs claims a very strong finish to a year of significant strategic progress.. Many managements are beginning to learn that they can make themselves look really good by  stressing how serious market problems, which they have to overcome, are. So Gregg’s achievements  were achieved despite the well-publicised challenges in the consumer sector but In 2019 things will get even better. In 2019 it will execute the “supply chain change programme” despite  ( chorus please,altogether now )”the many economic and other uncertainties hanging over the consumer environment.”

 

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Ian Pollard: Morrisons – The Legacy Lives On With Bumper Christmas

Morrisons W. Sprmkts MRW If you do not know how to sell a pack of frozen peas, then you should not be on the board of a chain of supermarkets. Britains high streets are riddled with major retail outlets which are in a state of collapse and its Boards are littered with bankers, accountants and management experts with not a grocer amongst them. At Morrisons however the legacy of “our Ken” lives on and the company is leading the big guns of British retailing a pretty dance. Whilst they cry over their shelves of unsold peach and ratatouille consomme, Morrisons just get on with the job of selling goods which its customers want to buy in stores which they want to visit.

The result,  Morrisons has just enjoyed its fourth consecutive Christmas of like for like sales growth. Total sales for for the nine weeks to 6 January rose by 4%. Customer satisfaction increased significantly and the price of its basket of key Christmas items remained  the same as last year.

Greene King plc GNK is another company which got its festive hat perched at the right angle, as like for like sales over the last two weeks of Xmas and the New Year leapt by 10.9% compared to a rise of only 3.2% over the first 36 weeks of the financial year. It is accepted that the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit may still have an impact on consumer confidence and spending during the year, but the company is confident of the outlook for the full year.

Safestore Holdings plc SAFE has announced its fifth consecutive year of double-digit earnings per share and dividend growth. Revenue for the year to the 31st October rose by 10.4% or 5.2% on a like for like basis and underlying EBITDA by 6.5%.The dividend has been increased from 14p to 16.2p per share, a rise of 16.1%. The company says that the start to its current financial year has been encouraging.

SIG plc SHI faced challenging market conditions and lower trading revenues in the second half of the year, particularly in December. Group like-for-like revenues were down 2.3% over the full year, with the UK and Ireland being particularly badly hit  with a like for like fall of 5.7%.

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Ian Pollard – Dunelm #DNLM facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty & delays new website

Dunelm Group DNLM  Unprecedented levels of uncertainty have forced Dunelm to delve deep into the jargon drawer in an attempt to mask its half year and fourth quarter problems.The one strong area has been online sales which rose by 37.9% during the 13 weeks to the 29th December, as against like for like store revenue which only managed growth of 5.75 in the same period. The retail industry can not even begin to comprehend that the shopping public has staged and is continuing to stage a massive rebellion against the big stores. And who can blame them ? Massive increases in the cost of public transport with journeys of 15 minutes costing a fiver each way per adult. That immediately adds 20 pounds to the supermarket bill. Unless you are a councillor, parking costs are exorbitant and the queues to get into a car park or shopping mall make the whole experience unpleasant.Far better to stay at home, put your feet up and do it online in warm pleasant surroundings.

The really bad news can not be hidden. Total growth at group level came in at 2% after store closures and over six months the figure was even worse at 1.2%. By Dunelm standards these are fairly poor figures but a sign of the times. Management boasts that gross margins have been improved but only by the sleight of hand of closing down low margin stores and businesses. Despite the importance of online sales management has had to delay the launch of its new  website  to quarter 4 because it needed to “evolve and optimise its plans” which raises the question as to why it did not opyimise them in the first place. The company no longer counts the number of stores it has (169) but shows how mod it has become by claiming it now has a store footprint, which really is nonsense English.

Full year profit before tax is expected to be modestly ahead of the top of the range current analysts forecasts. The Chief Executive regards the first half performance as a strong one but is cautious about the outlook for the second half. Perhaps he had better pull his finger out and hurry up with that new website.

Churchill China plc CHH has enjoyed a strong finish to the year and the operating performance for the year to the 29th December will be ahead of current market estimates. Growth in export markets has remained strong and the UK performance  improved in the second half.

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Ian Pollard – NEXT Retail’s Big Slide Over Christmas And Full Year

Next plc NXT Full price sales for the Christmas trading period (between Sunday 28 October and Saturday 29 December) rose by 1.5%. Whilst November sales were disappointing this was made up for by strong sales in the three weeks before Christmas and a good half-term holiday week at the end of October. Full price online sales though show the way the retail world is going with rises of 15.2% over the Christmas period and 14.9% over the full year. Retail sales as a whole however were fairly disastrous with falls of 9.2% over Xmas and 7% over the full year.

Alpha FX Group plc AFX Trading during the final quarter to the end of December has continued to be strong and it is anticipated that earnings will be ahead of market expectations. Both the corporate business and the new institutional subsidiary performed strongly and the next financial year is expected to see further increases in investment and full advantage being taken of market opportunities.

Getech Group GTC has announced a multi product sale to a leading global oil and gas company, which will generate gross income of US$3.2 million, most of which will be recognised in the financial year to the 31st December. Revenue for 2018 is now expected to exceed that delivered in FY 2017 by at least 10%.

Tracsis plc TRCS has signed what it describes as a “significant” five year Framework Agreement with a major Train Owning Group for its TRACS Enterprise product.  The Agreement covers all of the Operator’s individual Train Operating Companies within the UK plus other franchises that it may win in the future.  the Directors believe this is a key win that will lead to significant recurring revenue opportunities both during the Agreement and beyond. 

Corero Network Sec. plc CNS Orders for 2018 are expected to be approximately 20% higher than in 2017, following record order levels in the second half and the final quarter. Strong demand for the company’s Smartwall Threat Defence System is expected to show growth of approximately 20% over the previous year.

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Ian Pollard: Cloud Cuckoo Land Is Never Empty

2018 was quite a good year for the self important types who could not resist making fools of themselves in the full gaze of the public. The overall group winner of the year award must go to company directors and CEOs who have provided us with endless hours of amusement as they have literally tied themselves in knots trying to convince  us that the absolutely disastrous results which their companies have produced under their grossly incompetent leadership are really a good thing.

The examples are legion but a favourite is the self deluded belief that the continuing collapse in sales has been a blessing in disguise, because it led to a sharp fall in costs which enabled the company  to increase its dividend.

But for the mindless contribution from the country’s boardrooms, breakfast time business news would never be the same.

Shortly before Xmas Government ministers woke up to the opportunities they were missing and the votes they were losing, with their failure to take advantage of the Gatwick airport drone scandal. There was the Essex police making a ham fisted attempt at policing Essex and arresting innocent citizens in the process, when Ministers woke up and  discovered there was at last a major scandal in the country for which they had no responsibility whatsoever. What a golden opportunity. Essex police are incompetent, they screamed. Essex police are making a mess of it they brayed, even, Essex police should be removed from the investigation and Ministers  be put in charge.

Now hang on a bit. Ministers put in charge of a major investigation which the police had made a mess of? Ministers? These are the people, who brought you Brexit. These are the people who wanted customs posts in the Irish Sea, the uprooting of expats who had built new lives all over Europe and of Europeans who had been happily settled in the UK for years.Turn the south of England into a lorry park? Certainly sir. That shouldn’t be a problem They could not resist jumping on a bandwagon they would fall off at the first jolt. – all for a bit of self serving political advantage. They could not run a whelk stall, never mind Brexit and they claim they should be handed such responsibility.

Fortunately cloud cuckoo land is never empty.

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Ian Pollard – A Nightmare For Europe

When will they ever learn ? This is the week when European leaders suddenly woke up to realise they had created their own nightmare situation in which they had lost the Brexit argument. The UK was back once again in charge of of Europe. You can humiliate British politicians, they fully deserve it. but what you cannot do is to humiliate the British people. for having exercised their right to hold a referendum and then dare to stick to the result. You can not bully the Brits as if they were the Danes or the Irish, or even the French.

The Eurocrats stood no chance of forcing the UK into holding a second referendum so that it produced the “correct” result, namely the one demanded by Brussels. And who are these so called leaders who strut the European stage. First and foremost there is Barnier who can not stop himself from planting sloppy wet kisses on the cheeks of men he hardly knows and then engaging in a form of bodily contact with females, he knows even less, uninvited contact which nowadays would pass  in most countries as a form of abuse. His main problems are his ability to remain upright on occasions and to speak without slurring his S’s.  This is becoming so bad that his office has to come to his defence and provide excuses for his outlandish behaviour because he appears incapable of providing his own. I mean it is not as if he has a drink problem is it?

The Italians most popular politician is a comedian and he is really funny unlike Barnier who is just an embarrasment.

From Ireland to Hungary the antics of Brussels are endless, Who on earth dreamt up the idea of having customs posts in the Irish Sea. Has Brussels not woken up to the reality that it can be quite seriously wet in there on occasions.

How many Euro states have adopted the latest Olympic sport of sacking their leading judges because they keep bringing in the wrong verdicts. Even Spain that hotbed of democracy has now gone as far as locking up some of its leading politicians, apparantly without a trial, so far, let alone a fair one. Poland forced ten of its top judges into early retirement during the summer until the highest court in Europe ordered their re- instatement, a decision for which they deserve much credit. The success of Viktor Orban, Hungary’ fascist leader, saw many of that countrys 3,000 judges begin to tumble and the courts being systematically packed with loyalists, loyal to Viktor Orban that is.

One weakness of the Brits position is the glee with which our politicians embraced the demise of the European court. They could not wait to start dismantling the legislation which has given us all the protections which we now enjoy. All of our human rights in the UK emanate from Europe. Before the EU we had the weakest human rights in Europe. We had no written constitution and as far as the courts were concerned they were emasculated because there was no human rights legislation for them to enforce. The welcome to the new order was a stain on our democracy for which many of our leading politicians should be ashamed.

Now however the people of the UK have woken up. It is not just a case of European leaders lambasting the UKs politicians. They have in the past few weeks chosen to humiliate the British people for the decision they took. Like her or not our Prime Minister is our elected leader carrying out the wishes of the electorate. EU leaders have deliberately chosen to humiliate her in public in the belief that she is so weak that they have already won the battle. The realisation this week that she has fought back and outwitted them, is now sending shock waves through Brussels and the capitals of Europe. .

Democracy in Europe is crumbling rapidly. Let them go their own way.

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