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Ian Pollard – Morrisons #MRW, Divi Up Lads!

Morrisons W.Sprmkts MRW They don’t beat about t’ bush in Bradford and with a total annual dividend rise of over 150% in three years, they’ve no need to.  The 12 months to the 3rd February produced a third consecutive year of strong sales and profit growth and a  24.9% rise in total dividends during that year.  In a challenging period ,  Morrisons can truly claim that it has has continued to progress well.and both sales and profits have again grown strongly. Todays dividend announcements include a further special dividend of 4.00p per share, taking the total dividend for the year to 12.60p.

Hikma Pharmaceuticals HIK delivered a strong performance in 2018, with revenue and profitability significantly ahead of expectations at the start of the year.Group revenue rose by 7%, operating profit by 19% and basic earnings per share by 31%. The full year dividend is to be increased  from last years 34 cents to  38 cents.

Stobart Group Ltd STOB updates prior to the announcement of the full year results for the 12 months to 28 February 2019, that it continues to make strong commercial progress in its core Aviation and Energy operating divisions. London Southend Airport saw a 33% increase in passenger numbers. Stobart Energy delivered 1.3 million tonnes of renewable fuel, representing an increase of over 45% on the previous year. Investment and cash flow requirements have led the  Board to decide to move to  twice-yearly dividend payments of 3p per share each. . The first payment of 3p per share is expected to be paid in July 2019.

Advanced Medical Solutions AMS is to increase its proposed final dividend by 20% for the year to the end of December, after a 12% increase in both profits before tax and diluted earnings per share. This was AMS’s 17th consecutive year of growth with strong financial and strategic progress across the Group.

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Ian Pollard – Direct Line #DLG delivers a robust fall in premiums

Direct Line Ins. Group DLG claims to have delivered a robust third quarter performance in a competitive market. Robust in this particular case being defined as a fall of 5.6% in gross written premiums, compared to the same quarter in 2017, Perhaps this is a definition which not many outside the company could bring themselves to agree with.

Wm. Morrison Supermarkets MRW The third quarter to the 4th November saw another period of strong growth, with group like for like sales, excluding petrol, rising by 5.6%. Apart from the second quarter this was well above the growth rate for any quarter since the beginning of 2017.  Including petrol the rise was 6%. Retail like for like sales for the quarter weakened slightly without the impact of favourable weather and the World Cup in the second quarter.

Imperial Brands IMB  Claims strong financial delivery for the year to the 30th September, with revenue and earnings growth and high cash generation. . On a reported basis revenue rose by 0.9% and operating profit by 5.7%. Earnings per share fell by 2.7% but the dividend benefited from a further increase of 10%. The company grits its teeth and claims to be pleased with the progress it is making in creating something better for the world’s smokers despite that meaning a fall of 3.6% in total tobacco volume.

DS Smith plc SMDS updates that it expects return on sales and adjusted operating profit in the half-year to 31st October will be materially ahead of the comparable period. This follows recovery of increased input costs earlier in the year and good volume growth..Good ongoing volume and market share growth is expected for the remainder of the year and the company is quite excited about the prospects for Europac which it is in the process of acquiring and which will lead to further expansion in its Iberian market.

William Hill plc WMH is looking to the US becoming its jewel in what would otherwise begin to look like a somewhat tarnished crown. In the year to date online net revenue rose by 4%, whilst retail net revenue fell by 4%. In the US however existing business revenue surged ahead  by 29% following a Supreme Court decision in May. The company has now built on its market leading position in Nevada, to make rapid progress in other states as they legalise sports betting. It has already become the only company to be taking sports bets in the first five states to have regulated sports betting Its goal is to be in every state.

Purplebricks Group plc PURP has continued to make good progress in the six months ended 31 October 2018 with year-on-year revenue growth of approximately 20%. It has continued to win market share against a challenging market backdrop in the UK., whilst in Canada where it only opened on the 18th July the  business is performing strongly and in line with the company’s high expectations.

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Ian Pollard – Morrisons #MRW knows its onions – dividends up by 85.8%

Morrison W Sprmkts. MRW became clear leader of the supermarket pack during the 53weeks to the 4th February, as it enjoyed its third consecutive year of growth, growth which it describes as being meaningful, consistent and sustainable as well as full of confidence and promise for the future. Underlying profit before tax increased by 11%, or 16.9% on a reported basis and group like for like sales rising by 2.8% or 4.1% including fuel. Not one of them has the aptitude or ability to run a corner shop. They couldnt tell the difference between a cabbage and a cauliflower. and have no interest in learning it. Sir Ken Morrison who sadly died just over a year ago, aged 85, was still frequently seen in Morrisons stores, arriving unannounced and opening packs of food to check their freshness. That is what shop keeping is all about but its not for the number crunchers and city whizz kids who whinge about declining footfall and all the ills which afflict the nations high street and their crumbling businesses and haven’t a clue what to do about it.

The final ordinary dividend is to be increased to 4.43p per share making a fully year total of 6.09p, an increase of 12.2% The good news does not end there however, for a special dividend of 4p per share is also going to be paid, bringing the full years total dividends to 10.09 p per share,an increase of 85.8%, all of which goes to show that if you want to run a chain of supermarkets, you’ve got to know your onions

Hikma Pharmaceuticals HIK produced what its Executive Chairman describes as a solid performance in the year to 31st December. Core group revenue rose by 1% on a constant currency basis as management was beset with challenging market conditions in the US. In fact the year was so bad that the solution management came up with to solve the company;s ills was to refresh the corporate branding. That perhaps explains a lot and especially why the previous years reported profit of $302m. was turned into a loss of $747m. Hands up if there is anybody else on the planet who thinks a billion dollar turn down represents a solid performance. Is a fall of 11% in basic earnings per share or 8% on a constant currency basis, a solid performance except to the inhabitants of cloud cuckoo land. The final dividend is being increased but only to 34 cents per share, a derisory increase of 1 cent. which no doubt will be referred to in the boardroom as a solid increase.

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Morrisons Bringing Home The Bacon

Morrison W. Supermarkets MRW reports its seventh consecutive quarter of what it calls “positive like for like”  after strong first half growth in sales, profits and dividend. Like for like sales excluding fuel and VAT grew by 3% in the 6 months to 30th July, more than double last years first half growth rate of 1.4%. Underlying profit before tax rose by 12.7% and earnings per share by 14.9% and the interim dividend is to be increased by 5.1%. The company now expects to be able to deliver consistent and substantial growth, which is a lot more than can be said for most supermarkets.

GVC Holdings GVC made strong progress during the half year to the 30th June and this is continuing in the third quarter. Clean EBITDA for the current year is expected to be comfortably ahead of analysts consensus.Adjusted profit before tax rose by 99% after a rise of 25% in net gaming revenue. The statutory loss for the half year fell to 6.6m. Euro, down from last years 86.1m Euro

Booker Group BOK performed well in the quarter to the 8th September providing good news for Tesco which is hoping to be allowed to eventually complete the merger of the two companies. Like for like non tobacco sales over the 12 week period rose by 6% whilst tobacco sales continued to decline with a 9.4% fall on a like for like basis. No forward looking statements can be made because of the proposed merger.

Ricardo plc RCDO produced revenue growth of 6% for the year to 30th June after what it described as navigating a year of uncertainty and volatility. It ended the year with a record order book and a strong order intake. Underlying profit before tax rose by 2% and the full year dividend is to be increased by 7%.

Forbidden Technology FBT saw a slow down in first half sales because of larger deals which it had in its pipeline , leading to an increase in deferred revenue. Contracted orders rose by 67% including deferred  revenue which itself rose by 74%. The net loss before tax fell slightly as did the EBITDA loss.

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Next Celebrates Falling Profits With a Special Dividend

Next NXT Celebrates its weak trading performance by announcing a special dividend of 45p per share to be paid on the 1st August. Total sales for the 13 weeks to to 29th April fell by 3% as mayhem on the high street continued. On a like for like basis, new space which added 1.6% to sales, made the like for like fall look even worse, at 4.6%. Profit before tax is expected to get worse as the year progresses with the best expectation now being for a fall of 6.4% compared to the previous hope for a fall of at best, only 1.3%.

Morrisons W. MRW performed well in the 13 weeks to the 30th April as it became more popular with customers attracted by lower prices. Like for like volume became more positive and expectations for the full year remain unchanged.

Royal Dutch Shell RDSA enjoyed a strong first quarter as debt was reduced and the dividend ( unchanged) was covered for the third consecutive quarter. Industry conditions in chemicals became stronger, total bpf oil equivalent per day rose by 2%, realised prices for global liquids rose by 64% and for natural gas by 10%. In come before tax rose from a loss of $642m in the same quarter last year to a profit of over $ 3 billion. However impacts are expected  in the 2nd quarter from lower gas volumes and upstream earnings will suffer from divestments and lower production in the Netherlands.

Ladbroke Coral LCL expects full year results will be inline. From st January to 23rd. April group net revenue rose by 5% after falls in retail net revenue of 2% in the UK and 3% in Europe. Digital net revenue helped to save the day with a rise of 22%.

esure Group ESUR has made a strong and better than expected start to the year with a rise in gross written premiums of 29% between the 1st January and the 23rd April. Moror led the way with a rise of 29%.

G4S plc GFS enjoyed a strong start to the year with revenues rising by 8.9% at constant exchange rates in the three months to the 31st March. Developed markets showed double digit organic growth whilst emerging markets remained flat.

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Morrisons Surprises Yet Again

Morrisons W MRW has never lost our Ken’s ability to spring surprises and the new management team is doing just that with a 5.3% rise in the interim dividend and underlying profit before tax for the half year to 31st July up by 11%. Whilst total turnover did fall by 4%, first half like for like sales increased by 1.4% and the improving trend continued into quarter 2 where like for like rose by 2%. Cost savings for 2016 – 17 will exceed £1bn. Morrisons claims that its new team is making a real difference with lower prices, better service and improving quality.

NEXT NXT Total brand sales for the half year to the end f July rose by 3% but this was only achieved by discounting, with full price sales down by 4%. Profit before tax is down by 1.5% on a weekly comparable basis, last year having 53 trading weeks, compared to this years 52 weeks. Despite this being the age of the internet, it is perhas surprising that Next is bringing forward new store openings due next year, into the current financial year and will increase net trading space by 350,000 sq.ft. Next direct sales rose by 3%.

John Lewis Partnership BB90 saw small rises in sales for the half year to 30th July translated into whopping falls in operating profit and profit before tax which slumped by 74.5%. The company claims this is due to far reaching changes in society and deep structural changes in the retail market. Gross sales rose by 3.1% and John Lewis showed a like for like rise in sales of 3.1% compared to a 1% fall at Waitrose but the bad news is that the unwanted pressure are expected to continue throughout the rest of this year and next.

Ricardo plc RCDO The year end order book stands at  a record high at £231m, up from last year’s£140m The fully year dividend for the year to 30th June is being increased by 90% after a strong performance from the two acquisitions which the company made. revenue rose by 29%, underlying profit before tax by 41% and basic earnings per share by 30%. The company sees the outlook as positive with potential for good further growth.

Crawshaw Group CRAW is disappointed with current trading. The suppressed footfall from which it began to suffer in June has continued to the end of the half year and since then conditions have remained difficult.  The company is taking remedial action, it says.

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Morrisons – Oh for Archie Norman, Or Even Our Ken

As expected, Morrison’s (MRW) results are fairly horrendous with the total full year dividend slashed from 13.65p to 5p, like for like sales down 2% and total turnover down by 4%. The only positive signs are that in quarter four, like for like sales rose by – wait for it – a tenth of one per cent, which is hardly going to set everybody calling their stockbroker with buy orders. But they did at least manage to turn the previous years thumping loss into a profit before tax of £257. Plus the Amazon deal, which does seem to have added some hope for the future.

David Potts the Chief Executive, proudly claims that the team now comprises a wealth of internal and external talent. What a condemnation of the previous team. How and why were they allowed to get away with it for so long and to cause such damage to the company. And what, may one ask, was the Board doing whilst the old team so mismanaged the company. Will any heads roll there, where it matters? Potts blathers on about the company having started a the journey to turn the business round but makes no mention of how long this journey will take.

In the early nineties Archie Norman saved ASDA and turned it round in a matter of months, not years. He made his presence felt within weeks. England was once a nation of shopkeepers. Ken Morrison, the founder was a shopkeeper. He knew how to sell a tin of beans as did the Lords Marks and Sieff. Now they have been replaced in Retail UK not by bean sellers but by bean counters. And one dreaded word receives not a single mention – Lidl.

Despite the Amazon deal, the management of Morrisons seems to think it is still living in a world where they have plenty of time and Tesco is the standard setter. It isn’t and they haven’t.

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Has Morrisons Seen The Future And Stolen It

And not only seen the future but stolen a march on its competitors by seizing it. Two announcements today could change the future of retailing and give Morrisons a big step up over the competition.

Firstly it will provide a whole supply service to Amazon with hundreds of Morrisons (MRW) products becoming available online on Amazon including both fresh and fozen products. Could this give it a big leap in sales without it having to open a single new store or spend massively on increasing its on line presence.

At the same time MRW has reached agreement in principal with Ocado which, if implemented, will give it space in Ocado’s grandly named Customer Fulfillment Centre at Erith thereby enabling morrison.com to sell to customers all over Great Britain without having to build its own massive distribution and delivery network, by joining together Ocado’s delivery capability with Morrisons store assets.

Over the past 3 months months, shares in Morrisons have leapt from 145p to 195p compared to their 2013 high of 300p.

Chamberlin (CMH) the specialist castings & engineering group, is making good progress in difficult conditions and announces that underlying profit before tax should be above current market expectations for the current year, showing that it has the ability to deliver a world class product at a competitive price. All this, despite a slowdown in its core markets including steel, oil and gas,  giving the lie to those who claim that the UK has no industry left.

In addition it has signed a major new automotive contract worth 3.3 million per year, with the benefits starting to flow as from the second half of 2017 and  a new milling facility which will commence operation early in 2017 will make the group the only fully integrated supplier in Europe of grey iron bearing housings.

Results will be announced towards the end of May, together with a further update.  The shares have fallen from 92p a year ago to their current 64p.

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