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Major Companies Blame Challenging Conditions Again

Rank Group RNK met challenging trading conditions in the 6 months to 31st December but is still raising its interim dividend by 11% after a fall of 17% in profit before tax and 14% in basic earnings per share. Like for like group revenue for the half year rose by 2%. Nothing like raising  a dividend when the going gets tough.

Diageo DGE  is raising its interim dividend by 5% after a stronger performance produced a rise of 14.5% in reported net sales and 28% in operating profit for the 6 months to the end of December. On a like for like basis, operating profit grew by 4.4% and basic earnings per share were up by 20% at 60.3p.

SKY plc SKY produced a strong first half performance with operating profit falling only 10% to £679m, after absorbing £314m of additional Premier League costs. Revenue rose by 12% and earnings per share fell by 5%. strongest growth came in Germany & Italy with rises of 10% and 9% at constant currency rates and the UK lagging behind with only 5%

Unilever ULVR saw core turnover fall by 1% in 2016, which ended with tough market conditions.Core earnings per share fell by 7% or 3% at current exchange rates. Sales rose by 4.3% at constant exchange rates. emerging markets  performed much better with underlying growth of 6.5%. A slow start is expected to 2017 with tough market conditions expected to continue into the first half. Europe has been particularly challenging with subdued volume growth   and price deflation in many countries.

Whitbread plc WTB produced third quarter total sales growth of 8.6% but this masked a patchy like for like position. Restaurants fell by 1.5% on a like for like basis but Costa rose by 4.3% and the total came in at 1.7%

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