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Ian Pollard – Bonmarche #BON Rejects Takeover Bid – But Only Asks For Talks

Bonmarche Holdings BON which had seen trading become significantly weaker than expected sine the beginning of March, has rejected a takeover bid from Phillip Day’s Spectre Holdings, on the basis that it undervalues the business and its future prospects. These included a rise in the underlying loss for the year from a possible  £4.0m. to between £5.0m. and £6.0m. 2 April, Mr Day, who owns Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group, acquired 26 million Bonmarché shares at 11.445p a share, which brought his stake up to 52.4% and a warning that he expected a “material reduction” in staff. The Bonmarche Board was left with nothing but the expression of a wish to hold discussions, which would be for the benefit of all shareholders, including no doubt, themselves. So far they appear to be unable to find a reason why shareholders would  benefit from their continued presence in the governance of the company, especially having regard to its recent continued decline under their stewardship.

Games Workshop Group GAW has today declared a dividend of 35 pence per share, in line with the Company’s policy of distributing truly surplus cash and  to be paid on 31 May.This takes the total dividend declared and paid during the year ending 2 June 2019 to £1.55 per share. Trading has continued well since the half year report in January with sales and profits ahead of last year. The Board’s current expectations are that profit before tax for the year to June 2019 will be c. £80 million.

Plus 500 Ltd PLUS updates that financial markets in the three months to the end of March were extremely subdued and revenue.fell by 65%. New customers were down by 10%. The company that It is impossible to predict market conditions for the rest of the year and  conclusions can not be drawn about the full year outcome based on the Group’s first quarter performance.

Mobile Streams plc MOS has had to undergo  a comprehensive cost-cutting exercise, in fact so comprehensive that both Non-Executive Directors have had to volunteer a deferral of 50% of their respective remuneration. Sizable one-off redundancy and severance payments have had to be made, to employees, many of whom were of long service. With falling revenue, decisive steps became necessary to allow the company to preserve and protect its remaining cash balances.

National Express NEX has acquired a 60% stake in WeDriveU an employee shuttle company serving many of the world’s largest and fastest growing companies in Silicon Valley and other fast growing US cities.. The deal also includes an Option to acquire the  remaining shares in tranches over the next three years.

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Ian Pollard – Sainsbury’s Investment in Price Cuts Pays Off

Sainsbury J SBRY First quarter sales for the 16 weeks to the 30th June saw a continuation of the improving volume trend which became evident in the second half of last year. Like for like retail sales grew by 0.2% excluding fuel and grocery sales rose by 0.5% helped by online grocery growth of 7.3% and an improving price position. Clothing and General Merchandise, including Argos both outperformed the market in what Sainsbury claims were challenging conditions.  It is also on track to achieve its target of 200m in cost savings for the current year.

National Express NEX has been awarded a major bus contract in  Morocco.covering the major cities of the Kingdom and with expectations of carrying 100m. passengers a year across 61 routes. The initial contract is for 15 years with an option to extend for a further 7 years and services are expected to commence with a year.

Gresham Technologies plc GHT expects a strong second half despite an anticipated decline of 5% in group revenue for the six months to the 30th June. Like for like Claretti revenue should show a rise of 17% for the first half but non Claretti revenues are expected to slide by 21%.

Staffline STAF updates that it is only trading inline despite a strong performance in The Recruitment division which has continued to perform strongly allowing it to meet growing customer demand during the six months to the 30th June.

Mattioli Woods MTW produced another year of strong and sustainable growth, with organic revenue growth of over 15% in the year to the 31st May. Acquisitions remain a core part of the company’s growth strategy. and recent acquisitions have continued to perform well. EBITDA has also continued to grow and the EBITDA margin for the year remains slightly ahead of the 20% target

Nektan NKTN delivered very strong growth, with record net gaming revenue  of £5.7m,in quarter 4 an increase of 10.9% over the third quarter and  36.7% compared to quarter 4 of 2017. The strong fourth quarter ensured that full year net gaming revenue was £19.4m, an increase of 48.1% over the previous year. The strong momentum is expected to continue in the year ahead.

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Ian Pollard – WPP #WPP, not a pretty year

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.

 

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Ian Pollard – National Express Gearing Up For A Strong Christmas

National Express NEX has continued to see a good trading performance across all its divisions in October and November. In both the US and Spain early Christmas trading has been strong and advanced sales are higher then last year. Two small acqisitions have been completed, one in he states with 204 buses and the second in Madrid with 73 buses, each of which is expected to provide a return of 15 – 20% in line with company policy.

Elegant Hotels ELG  had received an approach from Melia Hotels  regarding a possible all cash offer for shares in Elegant but discussions have now been terminated and Melia will not be making any offer.

Alliance Pharma APH has agreed to acquire from Tyra Tech for an initial consideration of £13m, the worldwide rights to Vamousse which is an innovative consumer healthcare brand. The acquisition will be immediately earnings  enhancing.

My Sale Group MYSL will announce at today’s AGM that the current year has started well, revenue growth has accelerated compared to last year, gross margins are increasing and costs are being kept under control. Plans fr the year are ambitious but underlying profitability is growing in line with management expectations.

Palace Capital PCA is increasing its interim dividend for the 6 months to the 30th September, by 5.6%. The end September portfolio valuation showed a rise of 10.7%, profit before tax increased by 25.6% and adjusted earnings per share by 18.5%. Palace claims it has built a high quality portfolio, due to careful stock selection and is showing increasing growth both in income and in capital value.

Cora Gold Limited CORA has commenced a six month drill pogramme at its Sanankora Gold discovery in southern Mali. The pogramme is expected to be completed during he second quarter of 2018.

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Barclays Third Quarter Nightmare

Image result for barclays logoBarclays plc BARC suffered a nightmarish third quarter but claims it was part of an industry wide trend. It has had to admit that it is not delivering the economic performance of which it is capable but claims it has the confidence to assert that it will start to do so in 1919 -20. As for the quarter to the 30th September it produced a 19% rise in profit before tax driven by a £932m. reduction in costs but the good news ends there. After producing basic earnings per share of 9.6p in the third quarter of 2016 it managed to turn that into a basic loss of 3p per share this year. Group attributable profit for the third quarter of 2016 was a healthy £1,524m. This year it plunged to a loss of £628m.

And as for what it claims are industry wide trends, it is noticeable that only yesterday, Lloyds seemed not only to have escaped them, it did not even give them a mention in its 3rd quarter report.

Image result for national express logoNational Express NEX continued to deliver strong growth in the quarter to the end of September, especially in the international division. Group revenue rose by 6.4% (4.8% at constant currency rates). North America accelerated growth rates to 13.7% and in September there was a particularly strong performance from UK Bus and Coach.  German Rail passenger numbers grew by only 1% but the revenue they produced rose by 20.7% at constant currency rates.

Image result for bodycote logoBodycote BOY Group revenue rose by 16.8% or 12.9% on a constant currency basis for the quarter ending on the 30th September. Organic growth was 9.1% on the same basis. The car and light truck market continued to grow and was particularly strong in Western Europe and emerging markets, with western Europe leading the way in industrial growth.

Hydrodec HYR claims it is making further strong progress with strong demand ensuing as the quality of its products becomes recognised. Third quarter group EBITDA was positive and the expectations are that this year, for the first time in its history, it will deliver positive EBITDA for the full year.

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National Express Beats The Germans For Punctuality

National Express NEX With an 11% rise in revenue during the first four months of the year, taking into account acquisitions and the start of German rail operations in December, National Express has enjoyed a strong start to 2016. Passenger numbers have grown and revenue has increased across all divisions. In Spain passenger numbers have grown by 5%, in Morocco they are up by 11%, whilst North America has had the best start ever to a year. In Germany the company is even beating the punctuality record of the previous rail operator.

William Hill WMH has had a tough start to the year as the wrong horses kept winning, especially at Cheltenham and the wrong European football teams kept losing. Net revenue for the 17 weeks to the 26th April was down heavily in some areas and only the strength of the US market with a rise of 46% helped to save the day and reduce the overall net revenue decline to 3%. Even online revenue was down by 11%.

TUI AG TUI The half year report delivered by the executive Board for the 6 months to the 31st March reads like an insult to the English language. It is now focused on becoming content concentric and vertically integrated as well as continuing to deliver merger synergies, other synergies, delivering against growth levers, operating in all stages of the value chain and benefiting from joint management of occupancy which also delivered further synergies. The actual figures are at least better than the Boards communication skills. It expects at least a 10% rise in underlying EBITA for this year and next and so far this year the rise comes in at 16.3%. Summer 2016 is in line with expectations. Just as long as they keep centric and synergised, it might actually turn out to be a good year.

Barratt Developments BDEV continues to benefit from the boom conditions created by the availability of mortgages and admits that it is focused on obtaining selling prices as high as possible. Market conditions for the 19 weeks to the 8th May have been strong, with good levels of demand creating a rise of 9.7% in forward orders. There are excellent land opportunities available and Barratt expects a significant improvement in performance for the full year.

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