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Ian Pollard – United Carpets #UCG sees profit collapse

United Carpets Group UCG  found the first half of the financial year very challenging There were no immediate signs of respite in the general environment and with continuing Brexit uncertainties, the second half was viewed with some caution. However, recent trading performance has shown some more encouraging signs which, if sustained, should result in a better second half and a reasonable outcome for the year. First half like for like sales fell by 1.8% but in the 11 weeks since then they have risen 0.1%. Profit before tax collapsed from £589,00 last year to £121,000 and earnings per share from 0.57p to 0.09p. The interim dividend has been maintained.

Real Good Food Group RGD admits that its expectations for the year are only modest and its first half performance has been in line with those expectations. The loss before tax for the 6 months to the 30th September rose from £3.4m. to £9.1m. but that included a goodwill impairment charge of £6.3m. EBITDA on an underlying adjusted basis from continuing operations, saw last years loss of £0.4m turned into a profit of £0.9, The sale of Haydens Bakery for £12m. enabled the bank loan to be repaid and cash put into the business. The group is now smaller and more focused, it says, the focus being on profit improvement and growth.

Advanced Medical Solutions Group AMS has received CE approval to market and launch its LiquiBandFix8® Open Hernia Mesh Fixation Device in Europe, following the existing LiquiBandFix8® laparoscopic device. AMS continues to make good progress and the Board expects results to be in line with current market expectations.

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Ian Pollard – Significantly Distressed London Companies Surge 17%

Begbies Traynor BEG has published its Red Flag Alert for the second quarter of 2018, showing that 472,183 businesses were experiencing ‘Significant’ financial distress: at the end of June 2018, up 9% compared to last year. However the rate of increase is declining and has fallen 1% compared to the first quarter. The south of England was the worst affected area, with London being the worst performing region with a rise of 17% compared to last year. Begbies believes that after a poor first quarter we may now be seeing tentative signs of stability returning to the UK economy.

United Carpets Group UCG is pleased with its performance for the year to the 31st March, with like for like sales increasing by 3.2% and revenue up by 2.5% It is proposing to increase the final dividend from 0.275p. per share to 0.285p after profit before tax remained almost flat at £1.52m compared to £1.53m. It should be noted that since the year end, like for like sales have fallen by 1.6%.

FDM Group FDM produced what it decribes as a solid performance in the first half of 2018. Despite revenue for the six months to the 30th June growing by only 1% the interim dividend is being increased by 21% after rises of 12% and 17% respectively in profit before tax and basic earnings per share. It is anticipated that results for the full year will be in line with expectations.

Ascential plc ASCL The half year to the 30th June produced good organic growth with like for like revenue rising by 14% or 7% on a constant currency basis. Reported like for like operating profit fell from £32.2m. to £28.7m. but the interim dividend is being increased by 6% from 1.8p per share to 1.9p. Current trading is  in line with expectations for the full year.

Judges Scientific plc JDG expects the interim results for the half year to 30th June will show strong progress in revenues, EBIT and earnings per share.  The solid order book from the beginning of 2018 has enabled momentum from 2017 to be maintained, with currency movements having a positive impact.

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BT Admits The Cost of Bad Management

BT Group BT.A airs its dirty washing in public after describing the year to the end of March as a challenging one, made worse by headwinds in the UK public sector. It is still managing to increase its final dividend by 10% despite a 19% fall in reported profit before tax, which slumped even more in quarter 4 with a fall of 48%. Reported basic earnings per share were also down by 33% for the year and 49% for quarter 4. And that is not the end of the bad news. Revenue for the current year is expected to be broadly flat and dividend growth will fail to reach the anticipated 10%.

To add to its list of excuses there were further headwinds from the international corporate market and the self inflicted in house disasters created by BT management itself, including hefty fines and avoidable problems in Italy. Management has learned lessons, it humbly claims. A bit late in the day perhaps but we shall see. The lack of heads rolling around on the boardroom and executive canteen floors may be regarded by some as a cause for concern.

Stobart Group STOB is proposing a 50% increase in dividends for the year to 28th February with a final payment of 4.5p per share. The year produced a statutory loss of £8m after deduction of non underlying items of £ 35.4m. On an underlying basis, profit before tax rose by 48.9% and basic earnings per share by 62.4%.

On The Beach Group OTB is paying a maiden interim dividend of 0.9p for the half year to 31st March, after a 7.3% increase in revenue led to a 33.8% surge in profit before tax. Adjusted earnings per share rose by 27.1% and net debt fell by some two thirds to £2.3m. The group describes this as a solid performance, strengthening towards the end of the half year and continuing to grow in the second half.

United Carpets UCG has announced a special dividend of 1p per share which will be paid on the 25th May

Supergroup SGP The year to 29th April produced good sales and profit growth, with revenue ahead by 27.2%. Profit for the year is ecpected to be in line with expectations at £86-87m

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Trinity Mirror – Dire Figures But Ahead of Expectations

Trinity Mirror TNI is confident that its full year performance will be ahead of expectations, even if only marginally and that the fall in its net debt will be significantly greater than expectations.  Having said that the trading figures are still dire with like for like revenue expected to show a fourth quarter fall of of 8%, with publicity, print and circulation down by 8%, 10% and 17% respectively. Digital is one strong feature with an expected rise of 8%.

United Carpets UCG Trading has been robust in the 6 months to the end of September and the interim dividend is increased to 0.13p from 0.125p. The momentum which got under way last year has continued and like for like sales rose by 2.1%, producing an 8.8% rise in profit before tax.

Torotrak TRK Further deterioration in the trading outlook for the global off highway market is likely to lead to delay in its ability to secure the initial licence for the Flybrid KERS technology, which it anticipated would be concluded during the current financial year. A prospective licencee now expects having to delay the negotiations and the Board believes it will be 2018 before the first licence can be secured. The Board still believes that there is significant commercial opportunity for the KERS technology.

The Fulham Shore plc FUL claims a busy and successful 6 months with half year revenue to 25th September rising by nearly 50% from last years £13.9m to £19.9m. Operating profit rose accordingly, from 2015’s £1.7m to £2.4m. whilst EBITDA was up from 2.6m to 3.7m. The company is delighting the taste buds of the more select parts of London and south east England with chains of Franco Manca Pizzeria, The Real Greek and Bukowski. Since the half year end total number have risen from 36 to 42, with more in the pipeline. I suppose it takes all tastes.

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Ladbrokes Doesn’t Like Losing – Come On Leicester!

Ladbrokes LAD complains that at Cheltenham bookmaking principles were abandoned because of intense competition and that until then results had been favourable, At least that tells us that one of the main principles of the betting industry is that the bookie always wins and something has gone seriously wrong if they don’t. Similarly Ladbrokes is not looking forward to the end of the football season because it stands to lose 3 million pounds  if Leicester wins the Premiership.  So come on Leicester, do your best please.

Despite the unwelcome success of the punters, Ladbrokes had an encouraging start to the year with 3rd quarter net revenue up by 10.6% and digital net revenue by over 35%.

SKYplc SKY enjoyed a strong third quarter with strong demand from new customers producing excellent financial results Group revenue rose by 5% and operating profit by 12%. Germany and Austria led the way with a rise of 10% but Italy switched off with a 2% decline in revenue and 49% collapse in profitability.

Sky claims it is building Europe’s leading entertainment business. Looking at the rubbish on offer throughout most of Europe that should not be a particularly challenging task. Presumably “leading” will turn out to mean pandering to the lowest possible audience.

United Carpets UCG Final results will be ahead of expectations and it’s not often you hear that from the carpet industry. The improved trading seen in the first half has continued into the second half with like for like sales up by 6.4%


Go Ahead Group GOG keeps repeating in today’s update that 3rd quarter trading has been satisfactory. In fact it seems to have been a bit better than that with rail revenue up by 5.5%, 9.5% and 3% in its three rail divisions and passenger numbers up by 2.5%, 5% and 3% respectively. Regional and London buses were in line with expectations.

Computacenter CCC Revenue for the quarter to 31st March was flat. Uk revenue was down 4% due to the ending of a large contract.

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