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National Express NEX is delighted to have again delivered a record-breaking set of results. Group revenue rose by 5.6%, profit before tax by 10% and basic earnings per share by 13.1%. It is again proposed to increase the final dividend by 10 per cent.. Growth in the UK was very strong at 12.6% compared to 6.4% in North America and a decline of 15.1% in German rail
CRH plc CRH 2018 was another year of record profit delivery, with basic earnings per share up by 33% and group profit by 31% for the year to the 31st December. Sales for the year rose by 6% and the final dividend is being increased by the same amount. For 2019 the US economy is expected to continue to advance at a similar pace to recent trends and with positive progress also continuing in Europe.
Mondi plc MNDI has produced a strong financial and a robust operational performance for 2018. Whilst revenue was up by only 5%, on an underlying basis EBITDA rose by 19%, operating profit by 28%, basic earnings by 27% and profit before tax by 25%. The recommended full year ordinary dividend of 76.0 euro cents per share, shows an increase of 23%
Bovis Homes BVS claims excellent operational progress and a 47% increase in profits for the year to the end of December. The first eight weeks of the new year have seen good demand with average sales per site per week up 15.7%. The Board is recommending a 20% increase in ordinary dividend for FY18 to 57.0 pence per share reflecting the strong performance and also its confidence in the outlook for the business. Further operational and financial progress is expected in 2019.
Hunting Titan HTG also delivered a record performance in 2018 as the US onshore market accelerated and sales volumes improved in other international operations. Ongoing commodity price and geopolitical volatility ensures that the company remains focused on the agility and flexibility of the business to respond to market conditions.
Howden joinery Group HWDN delivered another good performance in 2018 with sales increased by 7.7%, profit before tax up by 2.7% and basic earnings per share by 4.7%. The dividend is to be increased to 11.6p per share, a rise of 4.5%. Four new depots are to be opened in the Paris region but operations have ceased in the Netherlands and Germany from January 2019;
Royal Mail plc RMG finds plenty to highlight in its interim results for the half year to the 23rd September. A rise of 1% in revenue is one of the best. Apart from that, underlying adjusted profit before tax was down 27 per cent and· adjusted basic earnings per share fell by about a third from 20.1% to 13.6 pence. As if that was not bad enough the reasons for this dismal performance, were even worse. Poor productivity performance, lower cost avoidance in the UK and higher than expected cost pressures in GLS, where admittedly there was a ray of sunshine with a 9% rise in revenue. The most amazing thing about this report apart from the surpising rise of 4% in the interim dividend, is that not a single member of senior management or the board had the courage to come out and make a single comment about the results. From the CEO to the Chairman and all the other senior executives, they all appear to have been simultaneously struck dumb.
Bovis Homes Group BVS on the other hand displays no such reticence as the CEO proclaims that the transformation of its customer service and build quality has resulted in a significant improvement in its financial performance since the 1st July. Bovis is fully sold for this year and expects full year profits will be at record levels. As with all housebuilders it has to make obeyance to the government for its generosity to the industry in agreeing to extend its completely unjustifiable Help to Buy Scheme for yet another two years until March 2023.
Young & Cos Brewery YNGA produced another strong performance for the half year to the 1st October, with profit before tax up by 19.5% and basic earnings by share by 19.4%. The interim dividend is to be increased by 6% making it the 22nd consecutive year-on-year interim dividend increase. Summer results were exceptional – average like-for-like sales growth of 5.6% over the past seven years, with this half year producing a revenue rise of 8.8%, helped by the hottest summer on record. Drink sales enjoyed a particularly strong summer with double digit growth of just over 7.4% on a like-for-like basis. Accommodation sales rose by over 18% and EBITDA by 4.7% to record levels. The strong trading has continued in the first six weeks of the second half.
Dart Group DTG Group operating profit for the half year to the 30th September surged by 68% after a 36% revenue rise. Basic earnings per share rose by 56% and the interim dividend is to be increased by 87%. Bouyant demand led to a particularly strong season for the Leisure Travel business although increased losses are to be expected in the second half of the year as further investment is made in additional aircraft and marketing.
Melrose Industries MRO is delighted with its acquisition of GKN, and the significant potential for improvement identified when it made its offer. Plans are now being implemented to realise the full potential of GKN’s world leading, but currently underdeveloped, businesses. The interim dividend for the six months to the 30th June is being raised by 11% in anticipation. The half year figures are affect by the takeover in that all the acquisition costs are included but only 73 days of trading from GKN.
Go Ahead Group GOG results for the year to the end of June were head of expectations and a robust performance is expected for 2018/19. Despite the self praise revenue fell by 0.6% and basic earnings per share by 0.2%. Although profit before tax rose by 6.5% it was decided that it was prudent not to increase the final dividend which is maintained at last years level. Bus operations performed resiliently with profits slightly up on last year despite a challenging market environment but rail profits fell by 25%, partly due to the expiry of the London Midland franchise.
Bovis Homes Group BVS performed ahead of expectations in the half year to the 30th June with profit before tax increasing by 41% and earnings per share by 40%. Unlike many in the industry it did behave as if it had a certain amount of social conscience. and and managed to keep its average selling price absolutely flat. Although total completions rose by 4%, group revenue rose by only 1% but the shareholders got the rewards which those who invest in the house building industry have come to expect and the interim dividend is increased by 27%. For the year as a whole the target is for record profits which will be at the top end of the boards expectations.
Dixons Carphone plc DC Like for like revenue was flat in electricals and down 1% in Mobile in the 13 weeks to the 28th July. The Nordics were similarly flat, leaving Greece leading the way with a 9% rise in like for like revenue, which is truly amazing having regard to the obstacle course which customers have to negotiate as they queue to try and pay for what they would like to buy.
WPP plc WPP “Not a pretty year” says Sir Martin Sorrell about his companies performance in 2017.Top line growth was flat and operating margins and profits were either flat or only marginally up. To add to the gloom, 2018 has had a slow start which managed to be above budget but in January like for like revenue was flat.On a like for like basis 2017 billings were down by 5.4% or 3.9% at constant exchange rates, although revenue at constant exchange rates did show a rise of 1.6% but on a like for like basis it fell by 0.3% On a happier note profit before tax rose by 11.6% (7.7% constant currency) and the dividend is to be increased by 6%.
Rentokil RTO had a good year in 2017 and its strong performance exceeded its medium term financial targets. After a rise of 13.8% in adjusted profit before tax the final dividend is to be increased by 15.1% to 2.74p per share.On a constant exchange rate basis adjusted profit before tax rose by 6.2% and adjusted earnings per share by 5.2%. Pest control performed particularly well and the company was very active in the mergers and acquisitions field, where it acquired 33 pest control companies. The policy of expansion by acquisition is to continue.
National Express NEX delivered strong performances both internationally and in the UK during the year to the 31st December with significant increases inr evenue, profit and cash. This is recognised in the final dividend which is to be increased by 10%. Like for like profit before tax at constant exchange rates grew by 11.7% and group revenue by 6.1%. The UK bus and coach businesses delivered a strong second half after the declines experienced during the first half of the year. A good start has been made to 2018 with profit and revenue both showing rises in January.
Bovis Homes BVS is pleased with what it describes as its operational progress in 2017. This progress saw profit before tax fall by 26% and earnings per share by 25%. and there are not many companies which dare call that, progress. The ordinary dividend is to be increased by 6% after strong increases in the average selling price, up by 7% during the year. The company also expresses itself as being excited by the future which is not surprising if it can get away with price rises like that.
Bovis Group BVS It is years since a major house builder produced such an appalling set of results. To do so at a time when the industry is in a long term boom illustrates the depth and severity of the problems which Bovis created for itself and to which management was too inept to find solutions. At least it now has a new CEO who has been in post since April and can hopefully start to get a grip on things.
Completions in the six months to the 30th June fell by 6% which is no surprise because at the same time the average selling price of a Bovis home rose by 9%, which the company appears to be trying to claim was not really a price increase as such but due to a change in mix. The result is that half year profit before tax fell by 31% and earnings per share by30%, whilst net debt more than quadrupled to over £32m. The company claims that the disaster is down to operational issues which can be fixed. The interim dividend remains unchanged but as a sweetener to shareholders they are promised that the full year dividend for 2017 will be increased by 5% and that for 2018 it they will get a further 20% increase. In addition, over the three years to 2020, special dividends equal to 134p per share will also be paid.
Since February customer rating levels are said to have improved significantly but they are still down at 74% which means that a quarter of Bovis customers are dissatisfied. One answer the company proposes is to focus on affordable housing and the second is to increase the number of houses built to 4,000 a year. In the current half year it completed 1,512.
AudioBoom BOOM set another quarterly record with third quarter revenue rising by 32% over quarter 2 and by 329% over the third quarter of 2016. This strong financial and operational performance is expected to continue with orders received for the fourth quarter continuing at record levels.
Empyrean Energy EME is excited about the prospects for offshore China Block 29/11 and confirms that, based on its internal preliminary analysis, the Block contains prospects of truly significant scale and size. The three priority targets have the potential to contain 591m barrels of oil.
Molins MLN moved back into profit for the half year to the 30th June with last years half time loss of £0.3m being replaced by a statutory profit of £0.9m. Basic earnings per share of 4.3p similarly replaced a loss of 1.5p per share. The company claims that it is now positioning itself for sustained long term growth.
Redde REDD saw like for like turnover rise by 19% in the year to the 30th June and the final dividend is to be increased by 8.7% making a total increase for the year of 9.8%. Adjusted profit before tax rose by 16% and adjusted basic earnings per share by 16.8%
Bovis Homes BVH is in demand by predators if not by investors, with bids over the weekend being announced from Redrow RDW and Galliford Try GFRD, neither of whom knew that the other was interested. Bovis, no doubt delighted that it has found an escape route from its management problems, decided that the bride price was too low and both offers were rejected. Redrow was informed that that its proposal did not merit further consideration.
Any housebuilder which has managed to do badly during the current boom conditions is not really fit for purpose and Bovis should be delighted that it is suddenly in such demand. Housebuilders are so flush with cash that they do not know what to do with it and presumably this is an alternative to keep giving it back to the shareholders. Obviously neither bidder felt that it should be reducing, rather than increasing its exposure to the collapsing central London market but that is house builders for you. Discussions with Galliford Try are continuing and Redrow believes that Bovis is a compelling opportunity. Let battle begin.
Computacenter CCC admits that results for 2016 were mixed which is a bit of an understatement with statutory profit before tax falling by 31.3% and diluted earnings per share by 36.3%. The only thing that was mixed appears to be that the UK part of the business did badly with a material decline in profitablity, after a 1.1% revenue decline, despite a strong second half, whilst Germany leapt ahead with a 15.4% rise in profitability and France edged upwards with a rise of 4.5%. The dividend is to be increased by 3.7%.
Clarkson CKN produced a strong 2016 performance despite challenging markets and the final dividend is to be increased by 5%. Underlying profit before tax and earnings per share both fell for t he year to the end of December but reported profit before tax rose by some 50% from £31.8m to £47.3m. The company also sees the beginnings of what it calls “recalibration” in the shipping and offshore markets and is looking forward to the opportunities which it sees in 2017
Bovis Homes Group BVS is being forced into taking a one off £7m hit because of claims arising from its poor build quality and it is brazen faced enough not to issue an apology either to the shareholders or even more importantly, to its customers. In fact in 2016 it imposed a rise of 10% in its average selling price for those who were unfortunate to buy one of its shoddily built houses but it does make a promise to those who buy one of its homes in 2017 – it will put prices up even higher.
For the year to the 31st December revenue rose by 11% but profit before tax was by 3% and basic earnings per share by 5%. As ever where management does not want the shareholders to get angry and seek revenge, it is hiking the dividend by 11% as the best means of self protection and promises that this years dividend will not be cut. It is also changing its priorities and customers are going to be put first which makes the mind boggle as to where they came in the pecking order, last year. It is also going to build fewer houses and sell off some of its land.
What makes it even worse is that Bovis lied in a trading update which it issued on the 28th December, only 3 days before its year end. It lied in postitive manner by claiming that its problem was that in December build production had been lower than expected. It deceived by omission, in failing to even hint at serious customer care and quality issues which it then must have known were going to cost it millions. Rarely has a major UK company gone to such lengths to hide its true state of affairs from shareholders and potential investors. Only a few days later when the CEO of some 8 years standing suddenly announced his departure with immediate effect, did it become apparent that the company was in serious trouble.
The resignation was notified purely as a Change in Directorate, with thanks given to the outgoing CEO for his years of service. Again Bovis kept its problems under wraps. The company behaved as if it was hoping it could get away with a cover up. Should the stock market not have been notified that the Board was keeping secret material facts of which it knew and which were bound to affecting the share price of the company ? Are those who were in the know and responsible for deceit, fit to be Directors of a public company.watch Live by Night movie now
So far this morning the share price, which had been attempting something of a rally recently, fell by just short of 10%.
The blizzards now raging on the Athenian coast will no doubt keep the weather pundits busy for a day or so and the most popular explanation from the chattering clashes is likely to be that global warming is responsible, which leads us on to the warning signs of storms ahead for the UK’s house builders.
Bovis Homes is the latest to set alarm bells ringing with a trading update for the year to the end of December which when compared to previous updates in the summer and autumn, clearly illustrates the beginnings of a serious decline in the house builders fortunes. Indeed when one looks back only six months, it is obvious that management was oblivious to what was happening in its marketplace.
Firstly Bovis has had to admit the unthinkable, namely that the delivery of new homes for the current year will be lower than previously anticipated, one of the major factors in this being delays in build production in December. What ?, do I hear you gasp, Bovis management is in such a mess that its years delivery statistics may be knocked sideways by delays in just the last month of that year.
Never mind says Bovis, we are protected against this by the price increases we have imposed on buyers during the year and which, with only 3 days to go, have averaged 10%. Very good that until you look at the figures produced at the time of the interim results at the end of June and then at later dates. Price increases in those heady days then averaged 15% i.e. 50% less than they have turned out to be at the end of the year. It does not required a degree in statistics to realise that the second half’s price increases must have fallen steeply to bring the years average down to 10%.
Closer inspection reveals other gems which indicate a continuous, worsening situation. Operating profit margins for the full year are expected to fall. Site closures for the year now exceed new site openings – which will help to make the company more profitable and which in turn raises the question as to why these sites were bought in the first place. Obviously it was because management mistakenly believed they could develop them profitably.
As recently as 10th November Bovis was announcing that volume growth was still expected for the full year, which does not compare well with its position in December that the full year would produce a fall in volume growth. Were there no signs of that six weeks ago. Have things deteriorated so badly in such a short time.
Bovis is not alone. Share price falls in the UK housebuilders over the last months indicated that the market had already cottoned onto the truth. It is a pity that directors and management remained blind to the problems. All they needed to do was to speak to the big estate agents but no doubt that would have been beneath their dignity.
Bovis Homes BVS Issues a trading up date for the year to date and what a good year it has been. Demand for new homes has outstripped supply. Of course credit for that can be given mainly to the government, rather than the house building industry which can just sit back, hikes is prices as much as it dare and watch the profits come rolling in. Bovis has not been backward at this and admits to increasing its average selling prices robustly i.e by 10%, in order to help it deliver what it hopes will be record revenues for 2016. Completions for the year will be 5% ahead of last year so with the 10% price rise on top, those record revenue (more socially correct than record profits) seem virtually gauranteed.
Auto Trader Grp AUTO There is no holding back the fearless British consumer once he, or she, has got the bit between the teeth and so it goes for Autotrader which is more than tripling its interim dividend for the six months to the 25th September. On a rise of 11% in revenue, operating profit was up by 21% and basic earnings per share by 28%. And as for that interim dividend, it is raised from 0.5p to 1.7p. Growth expectations for the second half are expected to ne met.
Halfords HFD is increasing its interim dividend by 3% on the basis that a 12% fall in profits and a 13.5% decline in basic earnings per share represents a strong sales performance. True, like for like revenue for the 6 months to the 30th September did rise by 2% but the CEO admits that the rise can only be justified by progress on strategy implementation which is intended to transform the future of the company.There are some grounds for optimism in that like for like sales for the 6 weeks to the end of September did rise by 6.1% and total revenue was up by 12.3% but that at present is a very short term view. Halfords has also been buffeted by the headwinds of currency fluctuations but claims to have found ways of mitigating these. The next quarter with Christmas trading could be all important.
Bovis Homes BVS delivered a record number of homes in the 6 months to the end of June, allowing revenue to grow by 18%, profit before tax by 15% and earnings per share by 14%. Shareholders are rewarded with a 9% rise in the interim dividend to 15p per share and net debt has been slashed from £59m. to £8m.
That all looks very good but it appears to have been achieved mainly by imposing swingeing price rises averaging 14%, to take the average new home price to £254,000. Legal completions during the 6 months rose by only 5%. Take those two figures together and it puts the rise in profits into perspective, whilst at the same time illustrating the boom in the new housing market showed no sign of abating prior to June, save that the weekly private sales rate per site fell from 0.61 to 0.59. Since June however the decline has continued with a fall to 0.5 from 0.58 a year ago. Despite that, as at the 12th August Bovis had achieved over 90% of its planned sales for 2016 and it regards the decline in average sales rates as being seasonal.
Clarkson plc CKN has more than weathered the storm which continues to batter the shipping industry and it rightly claims that its performance for the half year to 30th June was robust. Profit before tax rose by some 70% from £10.8m to £17.5m whilst earnings per share nearly tripled from 15p to 41.7p. All this was achieved in the face of the most challenging rate environment which the industry has seen for many years and no improvement is yet in sight, at least in the short term. The interim dividend is maintained at 22p.