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WH Smith plc SMWH is rapidly evolving into two separate businesses one of which does not seem to be able to find the management which it seems to need. The problem is the High Street, the traditional business which keeps on trying to make a profit out of selling newspapers, books and pencils. Smiths highlights its problems as if it is something to be proud of. Like for like High Street revenue fell by 2% in the six months to the 28th February and that, it proudly boasts, is its second best sales performance in a decade.Travel on the other hand is the jewel in the crown, with sales up by 18%, like for like revenue up by 3% and profit by 7%. Travel is expected to produce strong profit growth in the second half, slightly ahead of expectations. and it is thanks to travel that the interim dividend can be increased by 8%.
Quiz plc QUIZ saw group revenue rise by 12% during the year to the 31st March, helped by strong online expansion of 34%, compared to UK stores and concessions and International sales up by 8%. The company operates 108 Debenham concessions in the UK and a further 11 in the Republic of Ireland which between them produce 23% of total revenues. Slower than anticipated growth is expected during the year. and a thorough review of all aspects of the business is being undertaken, to mitigate the effects of the slowdown.It still looks forward to continuing to work productively with Debenhams.
easy Hotel plc EZH continued to outperform for the fourth year its hotel markets in the UK and across Europe during the six months to the 31st March, System sales rose by 24% and revenue by 47%. Regional market performance was weaker compared to a strong London. market., There was a marked deterioration across the UK in in the second quarter compared to the first.. As a result the short-term market outlook remains uncertain and trading is mixed on a country-by-country basis and as in the UK overall market demand has softened.
Christie Group plc CTG The 12 months to the end of December produced a solid performance but it can not be hidden that here is yet another company which is being damaged by our feckless politicians Brexit performance and the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is causing UK transaction related activity to slow.despite that, operating profit rose by 8.4%, revenue by 6.3%, the total dividend is to be increased by 3% and the second half performance is expected to be stronger.
Burberry Group plc BRBY would have you believe that customers are experiencing excitement ahead of new product delivery. They are also building brand heat and that is causing the customer excitement to grow even more. Digital engagement is also high on the list of jargon in todays update which is for the 13 weeks to the 29th December. Unfortunately the figures will not create any excitement as they show retail revenue fell by 1% during the thirteen weeks or 2% at constant exchange rates.Social conversation reached c57 million consumers during the Festive season. The company seems to appear to be proud of that even if it did not do much for revenue. In case you missed it first time round hey are keen to confirm this brand heat thing.
Antofagasta ANTO finished the year strongly with record copper production for the quarter whilst net cash costs for the quarter were the lowest since 2012. 2019 is expected to start with real momentum for what the company expects to be another record-setting year’ with production increasing by up to 9% to 750-790,000 tonnes.Group and copper production also set a record for the year and fourth quarter gold production increased by 87% over the previous quarter. Gold, copper and molybdenum production in 2019 are all expected to set new records.
WH Smith plc SMWH claims a strong trading performance across the Group for the 20 weeks to the 19th January.Total sales rose by 6% and like for like by 3%, The High Street is said to be doitg well with a sales fall of 1%, whilst the international business has continued to grow and now has over 420 stores.
Hotel Chocolat Group HOTC updates that total Group revenue for 13 weeks to the 30th December increased by 15% compared to the previous year. 15 new stores were opened during the six months to the end of December,
WH Smith plc SMWA appears to be well esconced in cloud cuckoo land with a claim that it had a good year in the High Street where trading profit fell by 3%. Nonetheless it identified and joined the latest trend by becoming a one-stop-shop for all “slime related” products. Not surprisingly a relationship to slime was followed by a 3% fall in revenue,which is perhaps a good thing. Despite the strength of travel where revenue rose by 3% on a like for like basis, group profit before tax for the year to 31st August was down by 4% and diluted earnings per share by 5%. All this lack of success resulted in a 13% rise in the final dividend, no doubt well justified and logical in the eyes of the board. Let us hope that those slime related products are not as unsafe and potentially harmful as some busybodies like Which are beginning to suggest. Otherwise that 3% drop in revenue may be regarded as having been a good year as news of alleged safety problems including burns begin to surface. The dangers of slime related toys were exposed by The Telegraph as recently as July when it reported that consumer watchdogs found many slime related toys are potentially poisonous because of their boron content.exposure to excessive levels of which can cause irritation, diarrhea, vomiting and cramps in the short term,
Countryside Props CSP produced one of the biggest disasters to hit the house building industry in recent times. It was forced to reduce its average selling price by 7% in the year to the 30th September due to what is described as “regional mix”.(nothing to do with Mother’s Pride I am assured) However, with the average selling price still as high as 402,000 there is still plenty of room for more good news for the few who can still afford to buy a house. Completions for the year rose by 27% and as at the year end the total order book was up by 40% compared to 2017
Dunelm Group plc DNLM reports total like for like revenue growth of +4.2% in its first quarter to the 29th September, compared to 9.3% for the previous year. In fact but for tablet-based selling in-store for home delivery, underlying like for like performance would have fallen by 0.4% which is not a good sign at all. Online sales however helped to save the day with a rise of 33% which would have been even greater at over 50% had those in store online tablet sales been included.
Hays plc HAS claims a good start to its financial year, with yet another record quarterly net fee performance producing growth of 9%. The Rest of The World in particular showed strong growth with the USA and China, up 27% and 29% respectively.
Churchill China CHH has delivered a strong first half performance and is increasing its interim dividend by 18%. Profit before tax and earnings per share both rose by 24% but perhaps the best news of all is that export revenue which grew by 17%, now represent 63% of group revenue, up from last years 57%.
Hays plc HAS delivered record international profits in the year to the 30th June as well as record total dividends for the year. Profit before tax rose by 17% and basic earnings per share by 18%. As usual the UK & Ireland was the laggard with only 2% net fee growth compared to 17% for the Rest of the World and 16% for Germany. Core dividends for the full year are increased by 18% plus payment of a special dividend of 5p per share.
W.H. Smith plc SMWH updates that the travel business performed strongly for the year to the 31st August. Perhaps not surprisingly the high street business only performed in line with expectations.
Hunting plc HTG is restoring its interim dividend with a payment of cents per share for the half year to the 30th June after enjoying a strong increase in volumes manufactured during the first half of 2018 and compared to 2017 when the interim dividend was nil. Reported profit from operations came in at $38.9m compared to last years loss of $23.9m loss. Results for the half year are underpinned, says the CEO by a strong market environment which has led to outstanding results for Hunting Titan and improving profitability for Hunting’s US operations. Reported diluted earnings per share rose to19.1 cents per share compared to 2017’s loss of 15.8 cents loss per share.
Saga plc SAGA In its preliminary results for the year to 3st January Saga comes out with the statement that the fall of 7.6% in like for like profit before tax is due (inter alia) to cost savings. No wonder the CEO admits that it has been a challenging few months for the company with the share price under pressure. Like for like earnings per share fell by a similar amount, down 7.8%. As a sign of what could be done, there was strong growth in travel with a rise of 36.9% The full year dividend is to be increased by 5.9% to 9p per share but just imagine where it might have been without those cost savings.
WH Smith plc SMWH claims it delivered a good performance in the half year to the 28th February with the interim dividend increased by 10% as senior management celebrates falls of 1% in profit before tax, diluted earnings per share and profit from trading operations, not to mention a 6% drop in High Street trading profit. In fact the only growth came from the travel division which once more saved the day with a 5% rise in trading profit. The CEO is confident in the outcome for the full year. Shareholders can only hope that it will not be as “strong” as the first half.
Dunelm DNLM The new Chief Executive says has become increasingly excited since he joined the company in February but that may soon wear off once he has to deal with the reality of keeping store sales rising.In the quarter to the 31st March like for like online sales rose by 35.7% and store sales by 1.2%, a sign of the times if ever there was one. Total group sales for the quarter rose by 5.1% but gross margins were down by 15bps although they are expected to improve in quarter 4. No new stores at all are to be opened in the second half which is perhaps an even greater sign of the times.
Hays plc HAS Total net fees for the three months to the 31st March grew by 9% as the world, with the exception of the UK, prospered. Again the figures reveal the plight of the UK economy where net fees fell by 2% compared for exmple to Germany which had a record quarter with a rise of 19%. Twenty of the company’s 33 markets achieved double digit growth which makes the UK look sick indeed.
WH Smith PLC SMWH has now become a travel company rather than a high street retailer, as for the first time, Travel revenue has overtaken High Street revenue. Travel has now become the largest part of the group producing over 60% of group trading profit. Preliminary results for the year to the 31st August show a rise of 7% in group profit before tax and a 10% increase in the dividend, which is accompanied by a share buy back of up to 50m. The company describes its performance as good, despite total revenue for the year being completely flat, with a like for like 4% increase in travel revenue, offsetting the 4% decline in the High Street.
SKY plc SKY has made a strong start to the year with excellent profit growth in the first quarter despite a fall in the UK advertisng market and pressure on consumer spending. Like for like revenue grew by 5% and EBITDA by 11%. In fact whichever part of the business you look at, it has produced growth. Purchases of pay as you go sports and entertainment have risen by 12% and viewings of pay channels are up by 10%. Further growth is expected as the year progresses and the key target is now Europe.
Hays plc HAS produced another record quarterly net fee performance, with widespread growth throughout the group. Continental Europe, again led by Germany, and the rest of the World saw a rise of 13% and 13 additional countries had growth rates in excess of 10%. The UK and Ireland were again laggards with a mere 1%, the temp business being flat and negatively affected by tough market conditions in the public sector. There were also wide and unexplained regional variations in the UK with the South West and Wales up by 14% but the East of England showing a steep decline of 11%
Petrofac PFC is slashing its interim dividend by 42% to 12.7 cents compared to last years 22 cents, despite what it claims to be a positive start to the year and a rise in net profit from last years US$12m to US$ 70m. for the half year to 30th June. The company is continuing to co-operate with the Serious Fraud Office which launched an investigation into the company in May. The second half of the year is expected to deliver an improvement in operating performance
Fisher (James) FSJ Underlying group revenue for the half year to the 30th June rose by 13% and underlying profit before tax by by 6%, giving a positive start to the year. The interim dividend is to be increased by 10% and there are indications of stronger growth with a good improvement expected in the full year results, following some recovery in maintenance work in the oil and gas sector.
Diploma plc DPLM continued to trade well in the second half of the year and group revenues for the year to the end of September are expected to increase by 17% of which 9% will come from the benefits of sterling depreciation and 2% from acquisitions. With a robust balance sheet the group intends to pursue its policy of acquiring new businesses to accelerate growth.
Paragon Entertainment PEL claims a ‘credible’ performance for the six months to the 30th June and that it has done what it set out to do. Unaudited results show a 45% rise in revenue, whilst underlying operating profit has rise from £106m. to £331m. Basic earnings per share more than tripled from 0.05p per share to 0.18p.
WH Smith SMWH updates that for the year to 31st August, its travel business has produced a strong performance and it has now opened its first three stores in Italian airports.
British Am. Tobacco BATS has a new policy of keeping its shareholders and investors generally less informed about its financial progress or the lack of it and has stopped issuing interim management statement, replacing them instead with short updates twice a year prior to the start of its closed periods. So all it will tell you with todays update is that the business is trading very well but no figures are quoted to justify that assertion.
All that it will tell is that it has benefited hugely from a currency translation tailwind of 14%, thanks no doubt to the destruction of the value of the pound, by our political leaders. One possible strong point is that full year volume is expected to outperform the market but then it admits that market volume is expected to be down 4%, so in the end that is hardly going to set the share price alight.
WH Smith SMWH has continued to focus on profitable growth with the result that total high street sales fell by 4%, during the 15 weeks to 10th June, as did like for like sales. Travel sales continued to shine with a rise of 8% or 5% like for like but as far as the high street is concerned the lack of focus continues to be alarming.
Bellway BWY experienced strong sales demand and robust market conditions in the period from the 1st February to the 4th June. Volume growth for the year to 31st July is expected to reach 10% and the average selling price should get up to about £260,000 as against last years £252,793. The company also regained its status as a five star housebuilder.
Mulberry Group MUL profit before tax rose by 21% in the year to 31st March with revenue rising by 8% and cash up by 50% to £21m. UK sales did well with a rise of 10%. For the 10 weeks to the 3rd June retail like for like sales rose by 1%. The proposed final dividend remains unchanged at 5p per share.
RWS Holdings RWS After a strong first half performance, record revenues of not less than £76m are expected for the six months to 31st March, a rise of 33% on 2016. Adjusted profit before tax is expected to show a rise of 36.7%. Following the acquisition of LUZ in February, integration of which has proceeded smoothly, RWS is now a major force in Life Sciences and a premier global supplier of intellectual property support services. This makes it an attractive home for niche companies specialising in these fields. Further expansion and further progress are expected during the remainder of the year.
The share price has risen by over 50% since May 2016 and now stands at 340p.
WH Smith SMWH is increasing its interim dividend by 9%, after what it calls a good first half in which group revenue remained flat but group trading profit rose by 5% and earnings per share by 7%. Travel was particularly strong with a like for like sales rise of 5%.
PageGroup plc PAGE produced a record first quarter with gross profit growth of 9.1%. Regional profits grew strongly on a world wide basis except for the UK which lagged way, way behind and actually managed to produce a decline of 0.1%, all due it is claimed, believe it or not, to the uncertainties created by Brexit
HydroDec Group HYR First quarter revenue grew by 25% over quarter 1 2016, leading the company to believe that it will have achieved positive EBITDA. Further growth in both revenue and EBITDA is expected for the remainder of the year, as further progress is made in establishing the company as a profitable business.
Tricorn Group TCN benefited from an improvement in trading towards the end of the year with second half revenue up by 7.5% on the first half and 20% on the second half of 2016. The energy division was particularly strong and it is anticipated that adjusted profits before tax for the year to 31st March will now exceed market expectations.
D4t4 Solutions D4T4 expects that profits (excluding foreign exchange gains) will be ahead of current market expectations for the year to the 31st March. Software revenue and recurring revenues both showed strong growth with sales of Cerebrus rising by 48%. The company claims it is in robust shape.
W.H. Smith SMWH claims a strong performance across the group for the 21 weeks to 21st January, presumably hoping that nobody will go as far as reading the actual figures which show that High Street revenue actually fell by 4% and only travel revenue with a 10% increase, saved the day enabling Smiths to show a like for like sales increase of 1% and a total increase of 2%. As a result of the success of the travel division, the group expects that profit growth for the group as a whole will be slightly ahead of plan.
Restaurant Group RTN admits to a catalogue of management failures which led to a fall of 5.9% in 4th quarter trading which continued to be challenging and compares badly with a decline of 3.9% over the 53 weeks to1st January. The decline is to be countered by improving its proposition and its operating processes, building a better business and delivering an attentive and engaging service, One can only hope that the people who failed to cope with the problems in 2016 will be able to deal with them in 2017, The first half of which is expected to be difficult and no improvement showing until towards the end of the year.
Koovs KOOV is enjoying another year of excellent growth with sales for the 9 months to 31st December showing a rise of 101% and traffic, registered users and social media all up by 100%. The success of its premium party dress collection which sold out in record time, 59% of it within three days of launch has left the company excited about prospects for 2017
McCarthy & Stone MCS saw legal completions for the 20 weeks to the 20th January fall by 2% compared to the previous year as a result of a lower forward order book and a slight slowing in sales momentum since results were announced on the 15th November. Year to date reservations are currently running ahead and are expected to bring in an extra 5% revenue, due to price increases. Profit before tax for 2017 will be more than usually weighted towards the second half.
Staffline Group STAF is increasing its final dividend by 29% after a year of strong organic growth which saw a rise in revenue of 26%. Underlying profit before tax rose by 30% and undiluted earnings per share by 23%. The company’s success means that it has increased its market share “more than ever”.