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Ian Pollard – Momentous year for Cineworld #CINE

Cineworld CINE found 2017 to be not only exciting but also the most momentous since its foundation in 1995 as it once again produced record results and took the first steps towards turning itself into the second largest cinema chain in the world with the acquisition of Regal entertainment Group for $3.4bn. This was a transformational acquisition, now completed, which gave it a total of over 9,500 screens. Profit before tax rose by 22.7% and basic earnings per share by 18.7% enabling the full year cash dividend to be increased by 14.5% plus a final rights adjusted dividend of 3.1p er share.

Savills plc SVS delivered a strong and improved performance in 2017 and is raising dividends for the year by a total of 4% to to 30.2p per share. Group revenue rose by 11% and on a statutory basis profit before tax increased by 13% and basic earnings per share by 20%. The strength is attributed  to the resilience of the residential market, geographical diversity and strength in key commercial markets.

Kier Group KIE is increasing its interim dividend for the six months to the 31sr December by 2% after an 8% rise in revenue, 3% in basic earnings per share and 4% in profit before tax.  The good performance is claimed to reflect the strength of the business model coupled with financial and operational discipline. Double digit profit growth is expected for 2018.

PZ Cussons PZC Following January’s announcement that first half trading performance in the UK and Nigeria had been constrained, things have not improved and a warning has had to be issued that full year profit will now fall short of expectations and profit before tax will be in the region of 80 to 85 million pounds. Despite the continuation of low consumer confidence and high competition in most of the company’s markets, a return to profitable growth is forecast for the following year.

Portmeirion Group PMP produced its ninth consecutive year of  record group revenue in the year to 31st December and is celebrating with an increase of 7.5% in full year dividends. Profit before tax rose by 13%, basic earnings per share by by 9.2% and  revenue. by 10.6%. The success is attributed to strong growth and diversification in export markets.

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Pearson Selling The Family Silver

Pearson plc PSON  The best that can be said about Pearsons 2017 results is that they came out at the top end of guidance and that the restructuring programme is on track. Nonetheless underlying revenues fell by 2% due to a 4% decline in North America where US higher education coursework fell by 3% despite a rise of 9% in digital coursework. For 2018 further falls are possible and adjusted operating profit is expected to be between £520m and £560m after disposals compared to 2017’s £ 570 to £575m. Disposals which were completed in 2017 included a 22% stake in Penguin Random House. Perhaps it is time that management woke up to the fact that there is only a limited supply of family silverware and in the end it runs out.

Burberry Group BRBY not surprisingly saw retail revenue down by 2% in the quarter to the 30th December which management should perhaps be reminded, included Christmas, although to be fair, on a comparative store basis, they did manage an increase of 2%. Here is another former stalwart of British retail  whose management is trying to transform it and to do so with strings of meaningless verbiage. The aim is to establish it firmly in luxury – it does not actually say ” luxury what” but no doubt they will get round to deciding that later.They seem to have completely forgotten that the company was for decades firmly esconsed in the luxury goods market and apparently no longer is..This great transformation is going to be underpinned by “people strategies”, We will also see a “global engagement campaign” for employees and best and most important of all “the piloting of  new enhanced digital sales associate tools.”At least management is not lost for words, it is just sales it is a bit short of.

Beazley plc BEZ expects to report that pre tax profits for the year to the end of December will be ahead of current market expectations, helped partly by a reduction in US Corporation tax rates from 35% to 21%.

Cineworld CINE achieved growth of  11.6% in the year to 30th December after admissions increased compared to 2016. Another year of progress is expected for 2018 after refurbishments and selective site closures duing 2017.

Ian Pollard – Majestic Wine Celebrates With a 33.3% Dividend Hike

Majestic Wine plc WINE Moved into profit in the half year to the 2nd October and the interim dividend is to be increased by 33.3% to 2p. The Chief Executive says he is now ready step on the gas and accelerate growth with a team which has worked like demons and made him “dead proud” of every one of them. After breaking even in the first half, momentum continued through into the second half producing a profit of 6.8m.On a statutory basis last years loss of 4.4m was turned into a profit before tax of 3.3m. Sales rose by 5.7%

Centrica CNA admits  that it is not only disappointed with its performance but also with the delivery of that performance. The usual excuses are trotted out the main one being that trading conditions have been highly competitive which is really an admission that it is not managed well enough to beat the competition. Then of course there is the weather which is blamed for being warmer in the UK than Centrica expected. The UK is now only expected to break even, on top of which there is downward pressure in North America.

Severn Trent plc SVT Ongoing momentum is reflected in the results for the half year to the 30th September which saw a reduction of 48% in sewer floodings, which appears to illustrate after all these years of privatised utilities, just how bad they had allowed their infrastructure to become. The latest policy craze is now “customer first” which begs the question as to where in the pecking order have customers been for the last 25 years or so? As for the statistics, half year turnover rose by 3.7%, reported profit before interest and tax fell by 0.2% by and like for like reported basic earnings per share were down by 20.2%, in response to all of which the interim dividend in the true spirit of customer first, was increased by 6.2%

Cineworld CINE delivered revenue growth of 10.6%  between the 1st January and 19th November, spurred on by the expansion and refurbishment programme. The Rest of the World led the way with a 24.6% rise in retail revenue (13.3% on a  constant currency basis). Dunkirk took pride of place as the highest grossing film in the second half and for the rest of the year we have old favourites to look forward to with another Star Wars epic and Paddington 2.

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Brand CEO Alan Green talks Andalas Energy (ADL), Avation (AVAP) & Cineworld (CINE) on VOX Markets podcast

Brand CEO Alan Green talks Andalas Energy (ADL), Avation (AVAP) & Cineworld (CINE) with Justin Waite on the VOX Markets podcast. The interview is 46 minutes 10 seconds in.

Corporate news review Thursday 10th August 2017

Amec Foster Wheeler AMFW reports net pre-tax exceptional gains of £47m in the half-year ended 30 June 2016 and says it has made a strong start to its transformation programme, with the first signs of progress now showing up in the order book.

Cineworld Group CINE reports half year revenue growth of 17.8%, with adjusted profit after tax up 23.5% to £42m. Looking forward the film release programme for the second half of the year includes a number of key releases namely “Justice League”, “Paddington 2”, “Thor: Ragnarok”, “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” and “Star Wars: Episode VIII”, and many more. Based on the H2 film slate the group remains confident of delivering a performance for the year as a whole in line with current market expectations.

DFS Furniture DFS publishes a pre-close trading update, and says H2 has been weaker than expected owing to significant declines in store footfall and customer orders across April, May and June. Overall, Group H2 revenues were 4% lower than the prior year, and following an increase of 7% in H1, expects to deliver growth of 1% over the year as a whole. FY EBITDA will be at the low end of the £82-£87m range previously given.

Evraz EVZ reports strong free half-year cashflow of $549m (H1 2016: $102m), and has reduced net debt to $4.28bn (FY2016: $4.8bn). An interim dividend of $0.30 per share will be paid, equalling an overall payout to shareholders of around $429.6m. Looking ahead, expects the results for the year to also reflect the positive trends on the global steel market.

Glencore GLEN reports adjusted half year EBITDA up 68% and EBIT up 334%, while net debt fell a further $1.6bn to $13.9bn from end of 2016. GLEN says its portfolio of Tier 1 commodities underpins ambitions to create significant long-term value for shareholders.

St. Ives Plc SIV updates on trading and says overall results for the year are expected to be at the top end of the range of current market expectations. H2 revenue was approx 17% ahead of the equivalent period last year and, excluding the effects of currency movements, like-for-like revenue growth was c12%. The group continues to be encouraged by the performance of the segment, which has now returned to strong like-for-like revenue growth, with a significantly improved operating margin. Trading conditions within Marketing Activation segment continues to be challenging, as reported in June 2017.

Midcap Bonanza among FTSE250 stocks

After the Brexit inspired sell-off, thanks to rising earnings, the FTSE 250 index has recovered sharply to hit record highs and post gains significantly in excess of the benchmark FTSE 100. At the time of the referendum, the slide in sterling was expected to be a disaster for UK plc, especially for those companies without significant dollar earnings. Even so the weaker pound has helped boost exporters’ orders, and although a mild pullback has been seen following the UK Election Hung parliament result, the recent trend shows the pound is continuing to strengthen against the dollar and euro, This stability has enabled midcap companies as diverse as Auto Trader (AUTO), Cranswick (CWK) and Greene King (GNK) to thrive.

These conditions haven’t suited all firms though, and there are plenty still suffering a weak sterling discount. Few pundits could predict the earth shaking political events of the past year, but with Article 50 triggered, and the UK Hung Parliament result, Brexit negotiations over the next two years coupled with European political uncertainty make it hard to identify opportunities. And for many FTSE 250 companies, the risks of a possible UK consumer slowdown cannot be offset by currency gains or outperformance in other parts of the world.

Despite the uncertain backdrop, one key element of the revival among FTSE 250 companies has been strong corporate earnings and positive news flow. Across the board, profits and sales are rising, dividends are being increased, and companies are expanding despite the obvious macroeconomic and political risk. Plus as of yet, consumer spending appears untroubled by recent political events.

Looking ahead, the pound looks stable and set to continue rising against the dollar and euro, a factor that could benefit companies without significant dollar earnings. A stronger pound could also take the sting out of the recent rise in inflation, which has hiked costs for importers.

While the wider global political outlook remains uncertain, financial markets have reacted in a broadly positive manner to the Hung Parliament result. This looks likely to provide backing to the ongoing stability and potential recovery of the pound, which in turn will further support FTSE 250 companies, and for some may even result in stellar growth performances, such as that delivered by Cranswick (CWK) and Cineworld (CINE) over the past year.

TUI In Line For 2016 Gringlish and Jargonish Prize

TUI AG (TUI) appears to have ignored the basic principle that its financial reports should be written in a language which is understandable by a good number of its shareholders. At least the tables are clear in the third quarter interim report which shows turnover down by 5.7%, net profit up by 116.4% and like for like earnings per share rising by 140%.

9 months  figures show turnover down 0.9%, net profit down by 70.1% and earnings per share by 77.1%. Trading for this summer is expected to be in line but winter bookings are already up by 8% on top of which, average selling prices have been increased by 5%.

The reasons for what it describes as a good 3rd quarter performance are given as;

Becoming more “content centric”, having a balanced portfolio of “desti-nations”, being well positioned to deal with changes in the geopolitical and macro economic environment (presumably getting tourists back into geopolitical areas like Turkey and north Africa “), having selective control of all stages in the value chain and a vertically integrated resilient model which is delivering merger synergies.

That is really going to be difficult to beat when it comes to the year end Obfuscation Prize.

What is wrong with plain old fashioned basic English. It might even attract more shareholders to what seems to be a fairly successful company with tight management.

Page Group PAGE is pleased with its half year performance to the 30th June but is well aware of the uncertainties in the UK caused by Brexit. Profit before tax rose by 16%, basic earnings per share by 18.7% and revenue by 8.6%. The interim dividend is being increased by 4.2% in addition to which a special dividend of 6.46p per share is also to be paid.

Cineworld CINE saw first half growth in admissions, box office revenue and retail sales and strong growth in ROW ( Rest Of The World) Group revenue rose by 6.8%, and EBITDA by 7.2%.  Despite that, profit before tax fell by 34.6% and profit after tax by 33.9%, one of the main causes being currency movements which hit it with an adverse swing of £15m. compared to half 1 2015. The interim dividend is to be increased by 4% to 5.2p per share.

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