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Alibaba invented Singles Day as a shopping celebration for the unattached as opposed to the romanticism of Valentines Day. It is now the world’s biggest online sales event, exceeding the combined totals of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Yesterday saw sales hit a record $1bn in 85 seconds and the total spend for the day came in at $30.8bn, a 27% rise on last year. UK High streets were probably closed for the day unable to think of anything to celebrate and Primark no doubt steadfastly maintaining that online sales damaged its business.
PS; I remember when Archie Norman became boss of ASDA, he introduced a singles night, so that the unattached could exchange erotic glances with each over the frozen peas. It was in the nineties on a Thursday night and was very well attended. Oh for the sound of trolleys gently bumping into each other.
Diageo DGE has agreed to sell nineteen brands to Sazerac for $550 million. The net proceeds of approximately £340 million, after tax and transaction costs, will be returned to shareholders through a share repurchase. Completion is expected early in 2019.
Babcock International Group BAB confirms that it strongly refutes the contents of a report issued by Boatman Capital which so far has ensured that it remain anonymous and untraceable. The report included many false and malicious statements and the Group is continuing to seek to discover the identities of those behind Boatman Capital. Babcock is currently delivering 128 contracts for the UK Government. Underlying earnings are in line with expectations and the outlook is confirmed for the financial year ending 31 March 2019.
Amur Minerals AMC admits that the completion of the Pre Feasibility Study has taken longer than initially expected and that the delay has caused concern. The release of the PFS is now scheduled for Q1 2019. AMC believes that the additional time taken to address points which are of interest to a number of potential partners has greatly enhanced the quality of the content of the Pre Feasibility Study and allowed for the creation a document that more readily meets their expectations.
Sirius Minerals SXX announces a significant milestone for it in the completion of its major construction procurement programme to support its stage 2 senior debt financing process. Final lender commitment letters are expected to be received in December and January and the Company is targeting quarter 1 2019 for the financial close of stage 2 financing.
Kingfisher KGF Despite double digit declines in virtually everything for the half year to the 31st July, Kingfisher tries to put a brave face on things and claim that for the third year in a row, it is on track to deliver strategic milestones. That can only be true if it had some very peculiar milestones in mind such as falls of 30.1% and 29.5% in statutory post and pre tax profits and basic earnings per share down by 27.1%.The half year report is littered with words such as tough, challenges, inefficiencies, mixed and difficult, each one a give away as to how bad things really are.
Constant currency sales fell by 1.1%, adjusted profit before tax was down by 18% and basic earnings per share by 15.4%. The performance in France needs support which does not sound very encouraging and all that is said for the outlook for the rest of the year, is that in its main markets things will continue to be mixed.
Babcock International Group BAB has issued a further update covering the period from the 1st April, confirming that it continues to make significant progress in expanding its international businesses. New offices are being opened in South Korea and Japan. Low single digit underlying organic revenue growth at constant currency is expected for the full year and margins are expected to be stable.
Stagecoach Group SGC provides an update for the financial year to the 27th April which is rather curates eggish. Revenue decreases in London Bus reflected the impact of contracts lost in the previous year but the regions provided like for like growth of 3.2%. Operating costs were higher in the hot weather which sounds like a sort of “wrong type of leaves on the line” sort of excuse. North America failed to impress with a like for like revenue decline of 3.8%.
Science in Sport SIS enjoyed strong growth in the half year to the 30th June with revenue rising by 20% to 9.93m. In the three months to August growth is described as having been very strong. Core business has been profitable at the half year for the first time with £0.3 million EBITDA. International markets also performed strongly with growth of 53% and international revenue now accounts for 34% of the total compared to 27% in the previous year.
SSE plc SSE The first quarter was impacted by weather conditions with hydro output higher than last year due to higher snow melt but for both years output was below expected levels, with this year, some 20% lower than expected. Output from onshore and offshore wind farms has been around 15% below expectations due to poorer than average wind conditions. Finally temperatures in the UK for the three months to the 30th June were 1.5 degrees centigrade warmer than thirty-year average, leading to a fall of about 10% in average domestic gas demand. Dry, still and warm weather, has also been accompanied by persistently high gas prices. Thus energy costs have risen, electricity output from renewable sources has fallen at the same time as demand. All of these factors have negatively impacted adjusted operating profit for the quarter by some 80m which will potentially have an impact on the full year results.
Unilever plc ULVR claims a solid all round performance in challenging market conditions for its first half with one of the highlights being a 5% drop in turnover including an adverse currency impact of 8.9%. More and more companies failing to meet expextations, seek refuge in challenging market conditions, without ever explaining what exactly the challenges were and why management was incapable of meeting them. SSE appears to be no exception treating it as one of the facts of business life for which they need not offer a meaningful explanation.
Sports Direct Intl SPD will no doubt please shareholders with the news that t has am elevation strategy which is continuing to exceed expectations. Preliminary results for the year to the 29th April show that on a reported basis, profit before tax fell by 72.5% and earnings per share by 88.3%. On an underlying basis the figures showed rises of 34.5% and 74.6%, respectively.
Babcock International Group BAB updates that it has delivered strong growth in its aviation and nuclear sectors but defence revenues have been impacted, albeit perhaps only on a temporary basis, by another government restructuring in the creation of a Submarine Delivery Agency whose main purpose in life, apart from the creation of more jobs for the boys, appears to be the creation of slowdowns and delays in activity levels. Perhaps another level of bureaucracy could be added to get levels of activity back to where they were before the new agency was created.