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J Sainsbury plc and Asda. The proposed merger between Sainsbury”s and Asda has been prohibited by The Competition and Markets Authority in its final report published today. As a result, Sainsbury’s, Walmart and Asda have mutually agreed to terminate the transaction.The reasoning behind the prohibition is that the proposed merger would result in increased prices for the consumer. Sainsbury is still unconvincngly trying to argue that it would mean lower prices. I know who I believe. Well done the CMA
Meggitt plc MGGT Revenue during the first quarter was strong with organic growth of 9% excluding the effects of foreign exchange and disposals. Strong revenue growth is expected to continue for the remainder of the year which is expected to be more challenging as air traffic growth is expected to moderate. The demand for defence products is also uneven despite organic revenue growth of 18%
Image Scan Holdings IGE produced a performance which was slightly behind expectations during the six months to the 31st March but expects to meet market expectations for the year to 30 September 2019. Revenue declined by some 30% and the half year profit of £39,000 was turned into a loss before tax of £178,000.The Chairman says that the recent decline in the share price is disappointing for shareholders but what else can he expect with results like that.
Ixico plc IXI updates that it is on track to deliver robust revenue growth for the first half of the year to the 31st March. Reported revenues are expected to show growth of 22% and the company is confident that full year revenue growth will match that. The momentum in building the order book during the first half of the year has continued from 2018. The order book is now robust and is expected to enable the company deliver on the +20% revenue growth targets which the business has set for itself.
Synnovia plc SYN expects results for the year to the 31st March will show strong growth in both sales and profits.Although profits will show a significant rise they are still expected to be marginally below current market expectations. The Industrial Division has performed extremely well as new business came on stream after the unexpected delays encountered in the previous year. Profitability in the Films Division was adversely affected by project delays in the current year.The Group also has to report that it has recently discovered an overstatement of revenue amounting to £1.619 million for the financial year ended 31 March 2018. This it claims, is non material but with repeated delays in its its two main divisions over this year and last, the picture painted by management could have been a happier one.
Sainsbury J plc SBRY You know that Sainsbury has a serious problem when the best which it can find to say about Chistmas is that Convenience stores hit a new record on Christmas Eve. Management gives the impression that it is lost for words and so it should be. It has been absolutely trounced during the Christmas quarter by that Bradford upstart and arch enemy, Morrisons.The only explanation it can manage to offer is the stunning “Retail markets are highly competitive and very promotional and the consumer outlook continues to be uncertain.” I think most people apart, apparantly from Sainsbury’s management, already knew that.
For the 15 weeks to the 5th January total retail sales fell by 0.4% and like for like retail by 1.1%. Grocery did do better with a rise of 0.4%, whilst as a continuing sign of the times, Grocery online and Convenience positively surged by 6% and 3% respectively. The company has had to admit that it could not compete on General Merchandise because the market is highly competitive and promotional and sales declined by 2.3% with margins under pressure.
Sainsburys does however have a solution. It has a new priority. It is going to “further enhance its differentiated food proposition” – in other words management will, as usual in these circumstances, seek refuge in jargon in the hope that nobody will notice it has been reduced to meaningless twaddle as a first line of defence.
Taylor Wimpey TW produced another strong performance in the year to the 31st December. Home completions increased by 3% and 3,416 affordable homes were delivered as against 2809 in 2017. What happened to the unaffordable homes, nobody bothers to say. Presumably they were dumped in Barnsley. The overall average selling price remained flat at £264k which is never a sign of a boyant market.The order book did however rise strongly during the year from 7,136 homes in 2017 to 8,304 homes in 2018.
Ted Baker TED increased sales by 12.2% in the five week period from 2 December 2018 to 5 January 2019. E-commerce sales did even better with an increase of 18.7% and now account for 25.7% of total retail sales. The company regards this as a good performance attained despite the “continuing challenging external trading conditions across its markets.”
Greggs plc GRG With fourth quarter total sales up 7.2% Greggs claims a very strong finish to a year of significant strategic progress.. Many managements are beginning to learn that they can make themselves look really good by stressing how serious market problems, which they have to overcome, are. So Gregg’s achievements were achieved despite the well-publicised challenges in the consumer sector but In 2019 things will get even better. In 2019 it will execute the “supply chain change programme” despite ( chorus please,altogether now )”the many economic and other uncertainties hanging over the consumer environment.”
Rolls Royce Holdings plc RR. is confident that Trent 7000 production and delivery volumes will increase significantly to meet customer commitment in 2019s. Growth in strong large engine flying hours reported in the first half has also continued into the second half of the year. Rolls is however forced to admit that the number of aircraft on the ground remains at a high level. It has had to placate its customers by sincerely regretting the disruption that this has caused them. Sad also to see the management of Rolls allowing a company which was once the pride of British engineering, to damage its own reputation to such an extent. A fall of 10% in large engine deliveries since the March estimate is expected for 2018 and blamed by management on early stage production ramp-up challenges on the new Trent 7000 engine – challenges which that self same management was incapable of dealing with – ramp up challenges indeed.
J Sainsbury plc SBRY and Asda Group Ltd will today seek a Judicial Review of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Phase Two investigation into their proposed merger. The current timetable does not apparantly give the Parties sufficient time, with it being Xmas time. Nor does it take account of the fact that it has suddenly been realised that the real aim of the merger is to improve range, quality and customer service, while lowering prices and reducing the cost of living for millions of UK households. Well isn’t that kind of them, especially at Xmas. Its nothing to do with economics and challenging conditions on the high street. It is just that left on their own, the two companies and their customers would be in a bit of a mess.
British Am. Tobacco BATS updates that the business continues to perform well and is exceeding its high single figure constant currency adjusted diluted EPS growth target – you may pause here to take breath and try and analyse what that sentence actually means. Further good news, they would have you believe, is that full year adjusted EPS growth is expected to be impacted by a currency translation headwind, of around 6% for FY18, at current exchange rates. .Some big executives never learn – if you can only talk nonsense, shut up and let somebody else make a fool of themselves.
Marshalls plc MSLH expects to exceed full year expectations. Better second half revenue growth, will lead to revenue for the 11 months ended 30 November rising by 14 per cent.
Superdry plc SDRY Interim results for the 26 weeks to the 27 October reflected a difficult trading period forcing the company to intensify its comprehensive transformation programme. The blame is firmly placed on the weather which was too warm in November and so far, into December as well. Reliance on cold weather related products continues and a lack of innovation in some of its core categories is also blamed, as sales have remained under pressure. This has resulted in an adverse profit impact of around £11m in November and similar damage is expected in December if trading conditions (i.e. the weather) does not improve. Blame is also allocated to the changing shape of consumer behaviour in the peak trading period, the impact of wider economic and political uncertainty and, even before the wrong sort of weather has arrived, further uncertainty in terms of the outlook for it. Now there’s a management which knows how to keep itself warm and superdry.
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.
Sainsbury (J) plc SBRY tries to present itself as the blushing bride dressed in all her finery and waiting at the altar for her handsome suitor. Certainly the blushing is well justified having regard to the way in which the annual figures for the year to the 10th March are presented. On an underlying basis the Chief Executive is pleased to announce an increase in profit before tax of of 1.4% and a rise of 9% in group sales. No hesitation there in stating the % differences between this years figures and last years, until that is, one comes to the statutory results. There the comparison percentages have all been carefully omitted and the reader is left to work them out for himself. And that is where the first blush of embarrassment begins to show with a collapse of some 20% in profit before tax from last years £503m to this years £409m. and a fall in basic earnings per share from 17.5p per share to 13.3p, a fall of some 25%.
When it comes to the annual dividend this is presented in such a way that most people outside Sainsbury’s head office would conclude that it had been increased but it hasn’t.” We propose to pay a final dividend of 7.1 pence per share, an increase of eight per cent, .”, they claim. Point number one, the increase appears to be 7.6%, not 8%. “Bringing our full year dividend to 10.2 pence per share.” they add- that is seriously misleading because “bringing it to 10.2p” means that it was not at that level previously – otherwise it could not be “brought” to10.2p. The truth is that this years dividend of 10.2 p. per share is identical to last years. By now the bride should be in full blushing mode and the groom, if he has any sense, will be back in the wedding car legging it at a great rate of knots up the MI and back to his home in Morley.
Paddy Power Betfair plc PPB As one would expect from a bookmaker the figures for the quarter to the 31st March are presented just as they are and without any pretence. Sports results from November to February were so good for the bookmaker, that the punters stopped punting which meant that the year got off to a bad start, with revenue falling by 2%, underlying EBITDA down by 8% and operating profit down by 12%. It is expected that £500m of cash will be returned to to shareholders over the next 12 to 18 months.
Sainsbury J plc SBRY expects full year underlying profit before tax will be moderately ahead of published consensus after a strong third quarter produced a rise of 1.1% in like for like sales, excluding fuel, for the 15 weeks to the 6th January. Groceries online and convenience saw growth of 8.2% and 7.3% respectively leading to a rise of 2.3% in total grocery sales. The icing on the cake was that general merchandise and clothing outperformed the market in challenging conditions. Online now accounts for 20% of total group sales lending support to those who expect families to continue replacing the car for shopping, in favour of the armchair. The size of the turnround in Grcocery can be seen from the fact that last years third quarter rise over 2015/16 came in at 0.3% compared to this years 2.3% rise over last year.
Taylor Wimpey plc TW updates that the fundamental housing market remained solid in 2017 and the company’s trading performance was good. Housing completions for the year to 31st December rose by a comparatively modest 5% with major factors favouring the industry continuing to be low interest rates and the governments Help to Buy Scheme. Must be great to be in an industry where government helps to keep your market overheated, year after year.The average selling price on private completions grew by 3% save that in Spain it actually fell slightly – presumably no government help there!
Page Group PAGE was held back in quarter four by a miserable performance in the UK which showed a fall of 2.8% in gross profit compared to growth well into double digits in the rest of the world. Those old UK favourites of challenging market conditions and the impact of macro economic factors are held responsible for the UK letting the side down.For the full year 22 countries produced record gross profits with an average rise of 9.9% in what was a record year.Nor only was the UK not one of the 22, it produced, again, a comparatively abysmal perfornance with a fall of 3.8%.
Ted Baker TED produced a good retail performance over Christmas, with retail sales for the 8 weeks from the 12th November to 6th January showing growth of 10.5% at constant currency rates. This was however overshadowed by a particularly strong performance from e commerce which produced growth of 35%.
Sainsbury SBRY hs been forced to cut its interim dividend by 14% to 3.1p. Despite all the hype about outperforming this and growing market share in challenging conditions etc etc, in the end it was forced to choose between sticking to its strict policy of paying an interim dividend equal to 30% of the prior full year dividend or leaving it as it was, so it chose to cut. And looking at the figures that comes as no surprise. Underlying earnings per share and profit before tax fell by 22% and 9% respectively whilst on a statutory basis profit before tax slumped from 372m to 220m and earnings per share collapsed by over 50% from 14.8 pence per share to 7.1p. The Group Chief Executive regards this as a good performance. Like for like sales for the half year to 23rd September do provide a better picture with rise of 1.6% including fuel.
Burberry Group BRBY is increasing its interim dividend by 10% after delivering a strong first half which double digit underlying profit growth of 17% after revenue growth of 4% on an underlying basis and 9% reported. It is perhaps significant that Burberry has a strong international presence which will help to protect it from the ills afflicting British retailers.
National Grid NG maintained strong momentum in the US and continued to deliver a solid performance in the UK during the half year to 30th September. Despite all round falls in profit before tax, operating profit and earnings per share, which senior executives now seem to regard as an essential before their company can be described as a success, the interim dividend is tweaked upwards by 2.1%.
Sainsbury J. SBRY put in a strong performance during the quarter to the 1st July with retail like for like sales growing by 2.3% and grocery sales by an even larger 3%. Online grocery sales surged by 8%. In General merchandising and Clothing, Sainsbury outperformed the market and this was not a one quarter flash in the pan. Clothing sales rose by 7.2% which is enough to make most clothing retailers turn green with envy, especially as this is the third consecutive quarter in which Sainsbury has stormed ahead on clothing sales, the second half of the previous financial year having produced growth of 15.2%.
The secret to the strong overall performance is put down to three simple things, quality, choice and value. Most of the big retailers would claim the same. The difference with Sainsbury is that it is not just more tired old jargon, it is actually giving it to the customers.
Hunting plc HTG expects to remain loss making as a group during the first half but with positive EBITDA. Its Perforating Systems Business has produced results ahead of management expectations, having benefited from the increase in onshore drilling in the US. Elsewhere conditions in Europe and in US offshore drilling remain weak as a result of the continuing law oil price. Hopes for the future hinge at present on US onshore drilling.
Imagination Technologies IMG completed its restructuring in the year to the 30th April and ended up producing a strong set of results. Group revenue rose by 19% and the adjusted loss per share fell from 9.2p to 0.9p whilst on a reported basis the decline was from 29.8p to 10.1p The impact of the dispute with Apple continues.
Apple no doubt, sees no reason why it should seek a resolution. All it has to do is sit tight and wait for the dawn of the new era when it no longer needs the technology provided for so long by Imagination Technologies. And if Apple is wrong on that, it won’t matter a jot by then. The damage will have been done and were Apple not a completely scrupulous and honest company, it would probably be able to pick up the bits and pieces and buy them for next to nothing. Meanwhile Imagination continues preliminary discussions with potential bidders for the whole Group.
600 Group plc SIXH now conducts over 60% of its activities in the US with only 12% of group sales being made to the EU in the year to the 1st April. Profits for the year rose by 79% and earnings per share by 50%. Current order books at the year end were 29% up in industrial lasers and 50% in machine tools compared to the same time last year.
Johnson Services Group JSG has traded very well during the half year to the 30th June and expects that results will be slightly ahead of management expectations.
Sainsbury J. SBRY slashes its final dividend by 18.5% for the year to 11th March, sees profit before tax fall by 8.2% and basic earnings per share by 26.8%. And the CEO has the cheek to trumpet it as a pivotal year with a clear growth strategy which has made significant progress. If it did have a clear growth strategy then it was one which obviously failed and management should have the courage to admit it.
Imperial Brands IMB at least remains on planet earth with its first half results, is raising its interim dividend by 10% and has a CEO who has found the time to invent a new language even if is is one which is unlikely to be understood by most of her employees, shareholders and board members. She appears pleased that it has a Market Repeatable Model deployed in e-vapour, and, best news of all, this is going to be used to drive growth in other “adjacencies”. As if that is not enough they are developing their footprint and “building blu” through investment.
As for the figures themselves, on a constant currency basis, total adjusted operating profit and earnings per share fell fell by 7.6% and 5.9% respectively. Obviously growth of adjacencies may be some time away.
ITV plc ITV announces that Adam Crozier is stepping down both from the board and as CEO, on the 30th June. No explanation is given for the suddenness of the departure. Indeed ITV seems to be pretending that just short of two month is not sudden at all but is long enough for it put in force its well developed succession plan, which is so well developed that they are having to take interim measures to fill the gap. Only “in due course” will a longer term successor be announced.
At least Paddy Power Betfair PPB has come out with figures, comment and details which make sense and are not hidden in obfuscation. First quarter revenue to the of March rose by 15% in constant currency terms, whilst underlying EBITDA was up by 83% and underlying operating profit by 117%. For a change punters at Cheltenham did not do at all well and were responsible for most of the quarters growth, although their fortunes changed for the better at other major sporting events in April.
Sainsbury (J) plc SBRY Like for like group retail sales at Sainsbury fell by 0.5% in the 9 weeks to the 11th March but very, very strangely it tries to get away with keeping its food sales secret. Argos did very well with a like for like rise of 4.3% and TU clothing did even better with a market beating rise of 5% but combined like for like sales rose by only 0.3%. So what kept the combined rise so small. Why do food sales not get a mention ? What else is left to account for the overall retail decline but food. Hands up please all those who can remember one of the countries leading supermarkets failing to provide in a trading update, figures for its food sales. It does not take an Einstein to work out that if clothing is up 5% and Argos is up by 4.3%, something must have kept that combined rise so low and also caused the decline at Sainsbury itself. Why has Sainsbury suddenly gone all shy about food sales.
It claims food sales were solid but it then goes on for paragraph after boring paragraph, explaining its customer philosophy in what is supposed to be a trading update. If food sales were all that solid, one would have expected the details to support the claim, other than news of the introduction of butternut squash waffles and sweet potato tagliatelle.
M&C Saatchi SAA had an outstanding year in 2016 producing both record revenue and earnings. Revenue rose by 19% or 9% on a like for like basis, earnings per share were up by 21.07% and profit before tax by 18%. The final dividend is to be increased by 15% and a good start has been made to 2017
Balfour Beatty BBY Claims that its return to profit after two years of losses, is proof that its transformation is well under way. The order book is up by 4% at constant exchange rates and a final dividend of 1.8p per share is to be paid, making a total of 2.7p for the full year. Due acknowledgement is given to the part played in the recovery, by the weakness of sterling.
FW Thorpe TFW had such an exceptionally buoyant first half that it resulted in the “imposition” of high levels of overtime and shift working at its largest subsidiary Thorlux Lighting, which in turn led to higher overheads. Revenue for the six months to the end of December rose by 23.8%, basic earnings per share by by 20.3% and profit before tax by 18%. The interim dividend is increased by 12.5% to 1.35p per share.