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Ian Pollard – Mitchells & Butler – Reports Results on a Snow Adjusted Basis

Mitchells & Butler MAB tries to claim a strong performance for the half year to the 14th April but is reduced in the process to having to adjust its growth figures by calculating the impact of snow. Thus  like for like sales growth of 1.6% becomes 2.5% on a snow adjusted basis. In the end it decides to give up the pretence  and restore its credibility by admitting that underlying profitability remained flat, which is in itself perhaps something of an exaggeration with reported profit before tax down from £75m to £69m. It is a pity when management has to admit that it can not tell the difference between flatness and a fall. Basic earnings per share came in at 13p as against 13.7p

SSP Group SSPG reports another strong performance for the half year to the 31st March, with underlying  profit before tax rising  by 40.3% and earnings per share by 33.3%. Like for like sales increased by 2.8%. The interim dividend is to be increased by 50% to 4.8p per share.

Burberry Group BRBY saw 2018 as a year of transition which would leave the company ready to start its transformation.  Like for like sales for the year to the 31st March grew by 3%, together with growth in both profit and cash flow. Revenue for the year fell by 1% both on a reported basis and and at constant exchange rates. Adjusted operating profit was up by 2% on a reported basis and by 5% at constant exchange rates and adjusted diluted earnings per share was up by 6% and 10% respectively. The final dividend is being increased by 6% from 38.9p per share to 41.3p. The outlook for 2019 includes a proposed share buy back of 150m.

Coats Group plc COA is now undergoing a transformation which will accelerate its transition from the industrial age to the digital age. In the first four months of the year it has seen robust growth of 4% in its core thread business and double digit growth continued in Performance Materials with a rise of 19%. Group sales were up  5% at constant exchange rates with a strong performance from the industrial business with growth of 6%.

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Corporate news review Thursday 21st September 2017

APC Technology APC says unaudited FY results to 31 Aug 2017 are expected to show revenue of £15.6m (2016: £17.9m), gross profit of £5.5m (2016: £6.4m), an operating profit before interest, amortisation, depreciation and exceptional costs of £0.8m (2016: £0.3m) and a PBT in the region of £0.2m, the first PBT since Aug 2014.

Compass Group CPG says CEO Richard Cousins has decided to step down on 30 Sept 2018. He will be succeeded by Dominic Blakemore, currently COO Europe.

IG Group IGG reports a record Q1 in relatively quiet financial markets, with revenues 21% of the last quarter at £135.2m.

Mitchells & Butlers MAB says the weather in August and September has adversely affected the market, but it remains encouraged that its like-for-like sales performance continues to outperform the market. As such MAB expects to deliver a full year performance in line with the Board’s expectations.

NCC Group NCC said it continues to trade in line with expectations for the full year.

SCISYS SSY reports half year results to 30 June 2017. Half year adjusted operating profit rose 18% to £1.3m, on revenues up 23% to £27.2m. Order book stands at a record £64m, and the interim dividend is up 11% at 0.59p. Chairman Mike Love said the company currently expects to deliver FY results at the upper end of current guidance.

SSE Sets Good Example And Remains Flat

SSE plc. SSE is increasing its final dividend by 2.1%  for the year to the end of March after yet another flat year, in which the absence of 2016’s large total of exceptional items helped to make the figures look better, despite this years complex challenges. Profit before tax has stayed at just over £1.5b for each of the last three years, during which the annual dividend has risen from 88.4p to this years 91.3p. The target for the next 3 years is that dividend increases will at least equal RPI inflation. “Flatness” and lack of excitement is not a bad thing. Our pension funds have to have somewhere safe to invest in so that tomorrow’s pensioners, or even today’s for that matter, can enjoy their retirement, content that next months and next years pension payments are secure.

Mitchells & Butler MAB results for the half year to the 8th April were adversely affected by this years Easter falling in the second half of the year. Profit before tax fell from £83m. to £75m. and basic earnings per share were sharply down from 18.4p to 13.7p. The Chief executive claims that it was still a period of sustained growth and that they outperformed the market. The interim dividend remains unchanged.

Countryside Properties CSP has delivered strong growth, ahead of expectations for the half year to 31st March and this is continuing into the second half so that that profits for the full years hould similarly be ahead  be ahead of market expectations. completions in the first half rose by 31%, adjusted operating profit by 39% and basic earnings per share by 258%, or 128% on an adjusted basis. The private forward order book is up by 69% on a year ago.

Bodycote BOY reports a robust performance in the 4 months to 30th April, with gross revenue rising by 18% on the same period last year, despite oil and gas revenues still declining and defence revenue remaining weak.

Ideagen IDEA Robust trading during the year to the end of April is expected to have produced growth of 24% in both revenue and adjusted EBITDA. On an organic basis the rise in revenue is expected to about about 10%.

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Countrywide and Barratt See Markets Collapsing.

Countrywide CWD Suffered badly in quarter four with figures showing the beginning of a slump in the housing market which is going to get worse in 2017. Countrywide is the largest agent in the business with national coverage and local reach, so these figures do not relate just to inner London or the Home Counties. They present a picture of what could be the end of the grossly overheated housing market all over the country. Results for the full year to 31st December are expected to show a 6% drop in transactions. Fourth quarter income declined to £179m. from 2015’s £196m It is expected that sales in 2017 will decline further, impacted by a continuation of lower volumes than in 2016.

Barratt Development BDEV does claims a healthy housing market with strong demand for new houses during its second half to the 31st December and that is all very true, provided you ignore London which is hardly realistic for a national housebuilder. Yesterdays update from Barratt’s showed that sales in London had plunged by over in 50% in the 6 months to 30th December, down from 842  to 367.As against that completions outside London were at their highest level for 9 years but the fall in London was so severe that total completions for the half year fell from 7,626 to 7,180.

The average selling price rose by 3.9% but for the poor private buyer the increase averaged 5.3%. Barrat claims that one of the main reasons for the strength of the market is continued government support, which does raise the oft asked question as to why the government should continue spending taxpayers money to fuel an already overheated market. Cynics may say that it is just the Tories looking after their own and ignoring basic economics.

Total forward sales are up by 15% and profit before tax for the six months is expected to rise by 7%, with a further 7% expected in the first half of 2017

Mitchells & Butler MAB enjoyed strong Xmas trading with what the CEO describes as an encouraging performance. Like for like sales over the 7 weeks to the 7th January rose by 2.9%, compared to a tiny 0.5% for the 8 weeks to the 19th November. Margins however are expected to be lower than in 2015 because of cost pressures

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Mothercare Delivering at Last

Mothercare MTC The turnround in the UK is continuing apace with group underlying profit before tax up by 51% and statutory profit before tax of £9.7m, being the first after four years of losses.  Like for like UK sales rose by 3.6%

Internationally the picture is much blacker and having set the UK on a path to growth, the company is now turning its attention to the problems there and intends to export the lessons it has learned at home to bring recovery and profits back to the international side of the business. The aim is to become world leader in its markets and it is many a long year since anybody at Mothercare dared to even dream of that.

Thomas Cook Group TCG claims it  has fundamentally changed its attitude to its customers. Not before time many would say. This must be one of the best pieces of news to come out of the travel industry for years where customers seem to be regarded as a necessary evil.

It claims that group revenue for the half year to the end of March rose slightly whereas the figures seem to show that it actually fell – a minor matter in the world of TCG. Both operating loss and loss before tax showed good falls of 13% and 15% respectively.  excluding Turkey, summer bookings are up by 6%  or if you include Turkey they are down by 5% overall. Bookings for Spain are strong and the US is leading the way with a rose of 29%

Shanks Group SKS. Tough market conditions have not prevented both revenue and profit growth for the year to the end of March. The weak spot was the municipal division which was impacted by unspecified headwinds with the result that trading profit in that division was down 15%.

Trading profit rose by 4% and last years loss of £12.4m was turned into an operating profit of £9.8m and the previous basic loss per share of 4.6p was reduced to 1p. The loss after tax has been substantially reduced from £18.2m to a more acceptable £4m.  The company claims it has the vision, strategy and organisation, to deliver growth.

Mitchells & Butler MAB claims strong earnings growth for the half year to 9th April, with profit before tax growing to £83m from last years £75m. and earnings per share up from 14.4p to 18.4p.  Total revenue, however, was down by 1.5% and the company admits that there is much to do for it to acclerate its trading performance.

National Grid NG has had a strong year and is raising its dividend by 1.1%. Operating profit for the year to the end of March rose by 6%. profit before tax by 9% and earnings per share by 10%.

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