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Card Factory plc CARD seems undecided as to how to explain the impact of increased costs which it blames for a fairly large drop in profits whilst at the same promising another special dividend for shareholders of between 5-10p per share with the half year results. The problem is that apart from increased foreign exchange costs the other major impact on profits has been the cost of having to pay a living wage to staff. That really is very unfair. Think what other goodies the shareholders could have had but for that living wage problem. As it is the shareholders have had to make do with dividend increases measured in fractions of pence, the final dividend rising by 1.6%% and the total ordinary dividend up by a mere 2.2% per share unless you include the whacking special dividend of 15 pence per share paid on the 22nd December. Things are so good that there is likely to be another return of cash to shareholders at the next year end of between. 5 and 10p per share. Proof of how good things really are is shown by a fall of 12.3% in profit before tax and 11.3% in basic earnings per share, occasioned no doubt by the strong like for like sales growth both from the stores and online and the delivery of a strong program of cost mitigation.
Thus do some companies expose their management.
Eddie Stobart ESL saw a substantial fall in underlying profits for the year to 30th November. Profits were down by nearly a third from £37.8m to V24m despite a rise in revenue from £549m. to £623.9m and statutory earnings per share fell from 3.p per share to 1.2p A final dividend of 4.4p per share is proposed, making 5.8p per share for the full year. The new financial year has got off to good start.
Plant Health Care PHC Claims exciting progress in the year to the end of December with external sales growth in the Rest of the World rising by 100% and sales of commercial products returning to strong growth with a rise of 21%. After two difficult years both the operating loss and loss before tax were halved.
Hydrogen Group HYDG plans to resume dividend payments with a final dividend of 0.8p for the year to 31st December which it describes as a transformational year.Net fee income for the year rose by 29% and underlying profit before tax of £0.8m was the same as the previous year.
Whitbread WTB is forced to delve deep into the excuses and jargon drawer to try and explain away its weak UK performance during quarter 3. It concentrates on total sales growth figures which look quite reasonable until one looks at how it fared on a like for like basis.Thus group sales growth came in at 5.6% with the UK performance lagging far behind with a like for like rise at a miserable 0.3%, market conditions being blamed, for continuing to get tougher. Hotels were flat and worst of all at Costa they actually fell by 0.1%. Here blame is allocated to “weak retail market footfall negatively impacting high street stores.” The role of management in all this does not even get a mention. Gone are the days, it would seem when management accepted responsibility for a company’s affairs, provided they have gone well.
Associated British Foods plc ABF For the 16 weeks to the 6th January all businesses delivered revenue sales growth of 4% on a continuing basis although at actual exchange rates this dropped to 3%. Primark sales grew by 7% at constant currency rates, as selling space was increased and Christmas week broke previous records. In grocery, progress has been made in reducing the loss and in sugar the UK crop will be significantly larger but prices will be lower. No views are expressed about the future in 2018.
Halfords HFD expects retail sales for 2018 wil be subdued as the retail environment continues to be difficult but for the 15 weeks to 12th January it enjoyed good trading especially over what it calls “peak including Xmas”. Third quarter sales revenue rose by 2.7% compared to 1.9% for the 41 weeks of the year to date. Car maitenance led the way with with rises of 2.1% whilst he quarter 3 laggard was travel solutions with a drop of 4.1% as against a rise of 4.2% for the year so far. Cycling took a clear lead with a rise of 7.8% for the quarter compared to 3.9% for the year.
Royal Mail RMG delivered a good performance over Xmas and over the 9 months to the 24th December parcel volumes rose by 6% producing a reveue increase of 4%. Addressed letter volume fell by only 5% which was better than expected and overall group revenue was up by 2%.
Eddie Stobart ESL Revenue for the year to 30th November rose by 12% with E commerce sales more than doubling to £103m. Operating margins were strong and improved across all sectors and for the current year growth is ahead of the prior year, again, across all sectors
Barratt Developments BDEV is upbeat on trading, and reports total completions of 17,395, the highest level of completions in nine years. PBT is expected to beat current expectations at around £765m (2016: £682.3m), and year end net cash balance of around £720m is also ahead of guidance, driven by strong performance and the timing of land and working capital payments.
Eddie Stobart ESL reports a 13% hike in sales for six months to 31 May to approx £287m, with operational efficiencies improving the growth rate at an EBIT level. H2 has started well despite the challenges for the logistics sector due to the current political and economic environment, plus the period will benefit from a full six months’ contribution from the recently acquired iForce business.
Micro Focus International MCRO reports FY revenues of $1,380.7m, slightly above the mid-point of management guidance. Underlying adj EBITDA rose 4.2% to $640.9m, adj diluted earnings per share rose 19.7% to 175.65 cents and the FY dividend increased by 32.1% to 88.06 cents. The board says it is confident that medium-term low single digit revenue growth, industry leading margins and strong cash conversion will ensure that Micro Focus can deliver on its strategy.
NEX Group NEX says NEX Markets revenue grew 11% on a constant currency basis (20% on a reported basis) during Q1 principally driven by the CFETS partnership. Trading activity was hit by low volatility albeit with episodic activity around macro events such as the French election and a US rate rise.
JD Wetherspoon JDW says like-for-like sales increased by 5.3% for the 11 weeks to 9 July 2017, while LfL sales year to date (50 weeks to 9 July 2017) rose 3.9% (total sales up 1.9%). Around £24m of exceptional, non-cash losses are expected this financial year, mainly from pub disposals and closures.
Robert Walters RWA reports a record quarter, with net fee income up 16% (25% actual) year-on-year. The performance benefited from the group’s international footprint and breadth of recruitment solutions. The RWA board is confident that FY PBT will be ahead of current market expectations.
Xaar XAR reports an in line trading performance, and expects to report revenue of approx £44m for the six months ended 30 June 2017. The co also reports a joint development agreement with Xerox to develop together the next generation of industrial bulk piezo printheads using the extensive combined resources and IP of both companies