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Ian Pollard – Allied Bakeries, part of AB Foods #ABF Loses Out On Price “Discussions”

Assoc. British Foods ABF claims that its results for the 24 weeks to the 2nd March are robust, with statutory profit before tax  down by 15%, basic earnings per share by 19% and profit at AB Sugar down substantially. Say no more ! Grocery did produce  strong underlying growth, with good momentum, Primark reverted to its usual role of saving the day for the rest of the Group, with excellent profit growth of 25%. Group revenue was 1% ahead and adjusted operating profit was 1% lower. Allied Bakeries seem to have been having a rough time and has had its largest private label bread manufacturing contract terminated by a major retailer. Noticeably this happened after recent customer discussions on pricing only some of which were successful. The effect of the volume loss is expected to be seen in the next financial year. A non-cash impairment charge of £65m has been recognised as an exceptional item in the income statement. The interim dividend is to be increased by 3%.

Centamin plc CEY claims to have made a solid start to the year, with the quarter to the 31st March having delivered ahead of expectations. Despite being the weakest quarter forecasted for 2019 , Sukari produced 116,183 ounces of gold in the first quarter compared to the forecast of 105,000 – 115,000 ounces. A stronger second half is forecast, with delivery of approximately 55% of the expected annual production  during that half.

Biome Technologies plc BIOM updates that Group revenues achieved for the first three months of the year were 11% ahead of the previous quarter at £2.1m,

Boohoo Group plc BOO claims delivery of yet another excellent set of financial and operational results for the year to the 28th February, with strong growth and solid profitability. Revenue for the year rose by 48% across all geographies with the UK up by 37% and international by 64%. Trading in the first few weeks of the financial year has been encouraging and Group revenue growth for the full financial year is expected to be between 25% to 30%


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Ian Pollard: ABF – Primark Faces 2% Like For Like Decline

Associated British Foods ABF expects a small reduction in adjusted operating profit as it enters the close period for its interim results for the 24 weeks to 2 March 2019. Despite this, sales growth is expected from all the businesses with the exception of Sugar but this is obviously not the ABF of old. For the full year results are expected to be in line with last year, That would have been unheard of and completely unacceptable even in the comparatively recent past. To add to the woes AB Sugar revenue from continuing operations is expected to be lower than last year with the result that the division will now make a marginal loss for the first half. Primark faces a 2% decline in like-for-like sales although sales are expected to be 4% ahead of last year and profit is expected to be well ahead of the same period last year but only because of a higher margin. The Eurozone has helped to save the day with sales expected to be 5% ahead of last year.

Bunzl plc BNZL has acquired a further safety business in the US. Californian based Liberty Glove & Safety, is engaged in the sale of a full range of personal protection equipment. No it’s not what you thought and its not knuckledusters either, it’s gloves, with revenue in 2018 of US$93 million.

Finsbury Food Group FIF Revenue for the 26 weeks to the 29th December rose by 0.5% on a like for like basis  Total group revenue however fell by 3.5% reflecting the closure of businesses partially offset by acquisitions. Better news is that last years first half loss of £1.2m was turned into a Profit before tax of £7.5m and the interim dividend is being  increased by 5.5% to 1.16p per share.The CEO describes the results as robust, delivered in a challenging period. A warning note  is that wider market pressures will continue in the period ahead.

Dechra Pharma DPH Trading in the six months to the end of December was strong with group revenue rising by 19.1% and the interim dividend up by 29.6%. EBITDA increased by 27.7%, operating profit by 35.8% and diluted earnings per share by 47.4%

Dialight DIA found 2018 to be a challenging year but one in which the foundations were laid to drive growth and restore market share. The prospects of further progress in 2019 remain unchanged, but with a second half weighting. Three major products are to be launched which will significantly expand the Group’s market.and the company has two new facilities in Mexico and Malaysia, to provide sufficient capacity to meet growth aspirations.

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Ian Pollard – Costa Sale Brings Large Share Buy Back For Whitbread Shareholders.

Whitbread plc WTB Completed the sale of  Costa to The Coca-Cola Company for £3.9bn  on 3 Jan 2019, ahead of schedule.   Over 2,000 new rooms were  added with  occupancy high at over 80%. UK  like for like sales growth fell by 0.6% over the quarter and 0.7% over the year. Despite the high occupancy rates accommodation was the main culprit for the decline with falls of 1.5% and 2.2% respectively. International sales growth was much stronger and helped to save the day with rises of 3.5% over the quarter  and 4.1% over the year. The company claims that it has experienced a momentous year with the sale of Costa for 3.9 billion but this current year is going to be much more momentous for the shareholders, as the sale has enabled the company to commence the distribution of largess with an initial share buyback program of up to £500 million.

Associated British Foods plc ABF has issued a trading update for the 16 weeks to the 5th January. Group revenue from continuing operations was 2% ahead of the same period last year at constant currency. Sales at Primark were 4% ahead of last year, at both constant currency and actual exchange rates.  Sales at Primark were 4% ahead of last year, at both constant currency and actual exchange rates, and with a higher operating profit margin, profit was well ahead. Primarks share of the total clothing market increased significantly and sales were 1% ahead of last year.

Workspace Group WKP experienced strong demand in the third quarter. The Chief Executive claims  they have continued to see a great deal of activity across the whole of the business. Demand for  newly refurbished space in London has been particularly pleasing

SSP Group plc SSP has had a good start to the new financial year. First quarter total group revenue increased by 7.6% on a constant currency basis Full year  expectations are that like for like sales growth for the Group remains unchanged at between 2% and 3%.

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Ian Pollard – Games Workshop Group #GAW – “Truly” Surplus Cash & Not “Truly” Surplus Cash

Games Workshop Group GAW updates that at the end of the six months to the 2nd December, it has a lot of cash which is truly surplus, presumably as opposed to cash which is not “truly” surplus. . The company can not find anything else to do with it so it is giving it to the shareholders, well at least a sum equal to 30p. per share.The results are in line with expectations for the year to 2nd June so the largesse must have been in the planning all along. Indeed it admits that this is in line with the Company’s policy of how to distribute truly surplus cash, as opposed to non “truly’ surplus cash.

Associated British Foods ABF The unheard of has happened and Primark has had to admit that in November trading was challenging and the retail market was tough. However improved margins helped to save the day, and expectations for Primarks profits to increase, remain unchanged. The problems at AB sugar continue and profits will be significantly lower, reflecting the full year effect of EU sugar prices.

CH Bailey plc BLEY saw group revenue fall by 4% in the 6 months to the 30th September but profit was up by 43% and EBITDA by 18%. The UK engineering business, is continuing to grow, with revenues up by 10% and the order book for the second half of the year looking solid.

James Halstead plc JHD  is aware that there is much speculation on the future trading relationship of the UK with Europe but maintains that it is a global trading company and the Board is confident of growth albeit mindful of potential short term issues. Both turnover and profits for the first five months are ahead of last year..

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Ian Pollard: ABF – A Headline A Day

Associated British Foods ABF Yesterdays headline trumpeted that Primark blamed three periods of unseasonable weather for sales sliding by 2.1% over the year to the 15th September. But today a new day has dawned and brought with it new headlines as the media stands on its head and proclaims that today’s truth is that Primark has in fact delivered a strong performance with sales rising by 1%. Like for like sales in the UK rose by 1.2% where its share of the clothing market grew significantly. Despite suffering in Europe where sales were weak and fell by 4.7%, total sales including those from fifteen new stores in nine countries, grew by 5%

Perhaps George Weston the CEO got it right when he calmly headlined that it had been another year of progress, with strong profits, not only from Primark but from each of its other world beating divisions, grocery, agriculture and ingredients, with only sugar letting the side down. Adjusted profit before tax rose by 5% and earnings per share by 6% whilst the final dividend is increased by a healthy 10% in line with the promises of a strong  profit performance  made in Septembers update.

Marks & Spencer Group MKS waved its magicians wand and produced a 7.1% increase in profit before tax after revenue which fell by 3.1% in the half year to the 29th September. The company is now going through the first phase of it transformation programme which includes the closure of over 100 stores and the introduction of a” new, very determined and energetic management team”  which indicates that the previous management team must have been regarded as somewhat lacking in these qualities. The store closures had their effect on revenue with Clothing & Home down 2.7%, Food down by 0.2% or 2.9% on a like-for-like basis, reflecting tough trading. Looking at the level of their food prices perhaps there is little wonder that trading was tough.
Persimmon PSN “All gone” is the word from Persimmon which admits that at the end of its third quarter on the 6th November it is fully sold up for the current year and forward sales beyond 2018 are 9% up on a year ago. Sales prices remain firm and consumer confidence is described as being resilient.
Dairy Crest Group DCG claims delivery of  a good performance in the half year to the 30th September, driven by its two largest brands, Cathedral City and Clover. Profit before tax fell by 88% and basic earnings per share by 89%. Revenue rose by 2% and the interim dividend is to be increased by the same amount

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Ian Pollard – Primark Like For Like Sales Fall

Associated British Foods ABF updates that the outlook for the year to the 15th September remain unchanged. Strong profit performances from Primark, Grocery, Agriculture and Ingredients are expected to more than offset the adverse effect of lower EU sugar prices. Grocery revenues are expected to be ahead of last year and adjusted operating profitshould be well ahead. At Allied Bakeries, some progress has been made in reducing the operating loss.It looks like the glory days at Primark  may be coming to an end with a 2% fall in like for like sales expected, although in the UK full year sales  are expected to be 5.5% ahead at constant currency rates or 6% at actual  rates following a significant increase in market share.

RPC group plc RPC has announed that it notes the recent media speculation and confirms that preliminary discussions are taking place with each of Apollo Global Management and Bain Capital which may or may not result in an offer for the Company.

HydroDec Group plc HYR The introduction of a new senior management team came too late to stop losses escalating for the six months for the 30th June:  The overall loss for the period increased to US$3.3 million compared to last years US$2.6 million due to under performance from discontinued Australian operation. There has however been a strong start to the second half and the new management is excited bout what lies ahead.

ABCAM PLC ABC is increasing its annual dividend by 17.9% after revenue for the year to the 30th June increased by 7.4% on a reported basis and 10.7% on a constant exchange rate basis.Reported  profit before tax rose by  grew 33.1% to £69.1m and whilst on an adjusted basis the increase was 26.3% to £81.6m. The company met all its strategic targets during the year and says that the long-term market outlook remains positive with good momentum across the business.

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Ian Pollard – Housebuilders In Cloud Cuckoo Land

Bovis Homes BVG delivered a total of 1,580 completions in the half year to the 3oth June, slightly ahead of  expectations and an increase of 4% on the previous year. Average selling prices for private houses only managed by a whisker to avoid falling into negative territory at £335,000 compared to last years £334,700. The total average selling price represented nothing less than a disaster, collapsing from £277,400 last year to this years £261,000 Bovis  claim that  the fundamentals of the housing market remain robust. Rumors that their latest new site will be in cloud cuckoo land are not to be believed.

Persimmon PSN It is not all that long ago when a set of results like these from one of the country’s major house builders would have been regarded as a national disaster. Gone, however, are the days of double digit increases in this that and the other and Persimmon regards itself as being in a robust position merely because it has managed to scrape into positive territory. It provides an update that in the six months to the 30th June revenue increased by 5% and completions of new houses, rose by 3.6%. Most telling of all however is the fact that Persimmon was only able to increase its the average selling price by a mere 1.2%. In other words new house price inflation is virtually dead, despite the fact that consumer confidence is resilient and business is claimed to be robust.

Associated British Foods ABF updates that the revenue momentum of the first half continued into the second half with like for like group revenue in the forty weeks to the 23rd June being 3% ahead of last year at constant currency rates and 2% ahead at actual exchange rates. Lower EU sugar prices impacted the performance of the Sugar division without which the increases become even more respectable at 6% and 5% respectively. Good profit growth for the full year is expected from Grocery and Agriculture. The continuing decline in wold sugar prices means that sales and profit at AB Sugar, both for this financial year and the next will be lower than previously expected.

Primark is benefiting from higher margins and sales in the year to date were 6% ahead of last year at constant currency rates and 7% ahead at actual exchange rates. This was mainly due to an increase in selling space but like-for-like sales improved on those for the first half of the year. Margins in the second half are expected to be well ahead of the first half.

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Ian Pollard – Is ABF-Primark losing its star quality rating?

Associated British Foods ABF Interim results for the 24 weeks to the 3rd March produced a rise of 1% in profit before tax and rises of 3% in the interim dividend and adjusted earnings per share.On a statutory basis, operating profit was down 3%. All of the groups businesses, with the exception of sugar, produced good sales and profit growth. Despite unseasonable weather Primark produced 4% profit growth which is mundane compared to previous years but its UK performance is described as being remarkable, with a strong increase in the total share of the clothing market.

JD Sports Fashion JD produced record results for the 53 weeks to the 3rd February with revenue rising by 33% and profit before tax by 24%. Basic earnings per share rose from 18.38p to 23.83p and the total dividend is increased from 1.55p per share to 1.63p.

APC Technology Group APC has quadrupled total profit for the six months to the 28th February with a rise from  £0.1m to  £0.4m., which also represents a doubling of the total profit for the full year to August 2017. Operating profit for the half year, before exceptionals rose by 45% and revenue was up by 14%. Profit before tax surged from  £42. to  £353m. and earnings per share tripled. The company says that these results have laid the foundation for the delivery of increasing profits and cash generation.

Christie Group plc CTG preliminary results for the year to the 31st December showed an encouraging rebound and the first half performance in 2018 indicates that it will be significantly ahead of last years. Revenue in 2017 rose by 11.1% and operating profit more than tripled from   £1.1m. before exceptionals to £3.8m., whilst earnings per share were up from 5.41p per share to 9.47p. Dividends for the full year are to be increased from 2.5p to 2.75 per share. The PBS division in particular showed a strong recovery with revenue up by 15.9% and operating profit tripling to  £5.3m.

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Ian Pollard – Primark Like For Like Sales Drop

Associated British Foods ABF warns that for the first half so far like for like sales at Primark have gone into decline with a 1% fall. This is despite a strong performance in the UK with produced a 4% rise in like for like sales and an 8% overall sales rise which was helped by an increase in selling space. Nonetheless one can not go on for ever increasing selling space and producing lower like for like sales. For Primark it is not all that long ago that these figures would have been seen as a disaster and it looks like the glory days may have gone at least for the time being. All other businesses except sugar will show sales growth, which again is the opposite of what one used to expect  during the years when Primark was in its heyday

Hammerson plc HMSO 2017 saw Hammerson achieve the highest level of lettings in its 75 year history and group occupancy rose to a 17 year high at 98.3%. Over the past 5 years  earnings per share have grown at an annual rate of 8.3% and all this despite the retail disasters which have hit high streets and  shopping malls, as shopping habits have changed. The final dividend is to be increased by 6.5%

Bunzl plc BNZL is to increase its final dividend by 10% maintaining a 25 year track record of unbroken dividend growth. Revenue for the year to 31st December grew by 16% and led to 13% rises in earnings per share and profit before tax. Organic revenue growth was the highest for 11 years at 4.3% on top of which was the beneficial impact of newly acquired businesses. The future is seen as being positive and the policy of consolidating the fragmented  market in which it operates, will be continued.

One Media iP Group OMIP claims to have weathered the worst of the storm, got back on track and seen the first green shoots of recovery, as the Chairmans forecast that streaming would replace downloading, turned into reality. The result is that in the year to the 12th October, revenue rose by 14%, EBITDA by 121% and operating profit by 927% as the industry saw the birth of a whole new market for audio visual entertainment. No dividend is to be paid  but that is a decision which will in future be reviewed each half year.

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Ian Pollard – Whitbread Delves Deep Into The Excuses Drawer – Even For Costa

Whitbread WTB is forced to delve deep into the excuses and jargon drawer to try and explain away its weak UK performance during quarter 3. It concentrates on total sales growth figures which look quite reasonable until one looks at how it fared on a like for like basis.Thus group sales growth came in at 5.6% with the UK performance lagging far behind with a like for like rise at a miserable 0.3%, market conditions being blamed, for continuing to get tougher. Hotels were flat and worst of all at Costa they actually fell by 0.1%. Here blame is allocated to “weak retail market footfall negatively impacting high street stores.” The role of management in all this does not even get a mention. Gone are the days, it would seem when management accepted responsibility for a company’s affairs, provided they have gone well.

Associated British Foods plc ABF For the 16 weeks to the 6th January all businesses delivered revenue sales growth of 4% on a continuing basis although at actual exchange rates this dropped to 3%. Primark sales grew by 7% at constant currency rates, as selling space was increased and Christmas week broke previous records. In grocery, progress has been made in reducing the loss and in sugar the UK crop will be significantly larger but prices will be lower. No views are expressed about the future in 2018.

Halfords HFD expects retail sales for 2018 wil be subdued as the retail environment continues to be difficult but for the 15 weeks to 12th January it enjoyed good trading especially over what it calls “peak including Xmas”. Third quarter sales revenue rose by 2.7% compared to 1.9% for the 41 weeks of the year to  date. Car maitenance led the way with with rises of 2.1% whilst he quarter 3 laggard was travel solutions with a drop of 4.1% as against a rise of 4.2% for the year so far. Cycling took a clear lead with a rise of 7.8% for the quarter compared to 3.9% for the year.

Royal Mail RMG delivered a good performance over Xmas and over the 9 months to the 24th December parcel volumes rose by 6% producing a reveue increase of 4%. Addressed letter volume fell by only 5% which was better than expected and overall group revenue was up by 2%.

Eddie Stobart ESL Revenue for the year to 30th November rose by 12% with E commerce sales more than doubling to £103m. Operating margins were strong and improved across all sectors and for the current year growth is ahead of the prior year, again, across all sectors

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