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Ian Pollard: Safestore Holdings – Strong Start To The Year

Safestore Holdings plc SAFE claims an excellent start to the financial year, with a strong first quarter performance, continuing the trading momentum seen in the second half of 2018 in both the UK and Paris markets. Group revenue from the 1st November to the 31st January rose by 6.% at constant exchange rates and on a like by like basis by 6.4%. Paris led the way on a like or like basis with a rise of 7.3% compared to 6.1% for the UK. Revenue for the quarter in Paris grew by 8.3 % following the opening of the new store in Poissy in summer 2018.

easyJet PLC EZJ confirms that it is in discussions with Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane and Delta Air Lines about forming a consortium to explore options for the future operations of Alitalia. In the words of the song there is no certainty at this stage that any transaction will proceed and easyJet will provide a further update in due course, if and when appropriate.

Money Supermarket.com Group PLC MONY made great progress in its Reinvent strategy in 2018 with profit after tax for the year to 31st December up by 11% and the ordinary dividend up by 6%. A good trading performance saw  revenues up 8% and In 2019 it is intended to return an additional £40m to shareholders.

AVEVA Group plc AVV delivered low double-digit revenue growth in the first nine months of the financial year, following the pattern set in the first half. Software sales grew at a faster rate compared to services, resulting in a modest improvement in gross margins. Operating margins also improved, although  some additional costs were incurred due to a better than expected sales performance.

Ashmore Group plc ASHM Profit before tax at £93.0 million, fell by 6% during the half year to the 31st December. The company described it as a respectable operating performance in the first half followed by a positive start to 2019. The investment performance remained strong and out performed by 30% over one year. Revenue growth of 13% was driven by 18% increase in net management fee income.

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Ian Pollard – #WPP Impacted By Client Losses.

WPP plc WPP a company with the spectre of its founder still lurking in the background is never a happy place to be. Naturally Sir Martin does not get a mention in WPP’s third quarter results but the way in which the company’s business has been impacted in many fields after his sudden departure, does get a mention and repeatedly so. The finger points in only one direction, Third quarter like for like revenue less pass through costs fell by 5.3% compared to 3.3% in the second quarter, as client losses continued to grow. Having seen second quarter growth of 1.4% in the UK, quarter three produced a fall of 2%. Most sectors were impacted by client losses as major global companies continued to desert in increasing numbers.

Strong regional differences  made for a patchy performance with Australia and New Zealand doing well. A similar story appeared in company sectors with a strong deterioration in advertising and media management, once the heartland of the WPP empire.One suspects that it will take some time for the spectre to be exorcised.

Aveva Group plc AVV updates that  it continued to perform well during the first half of its financial year. and delivered low double digit revenue growth on a constant currency basis. A number of contracts were brought forward into the first half.

Elementis plc ELM delivered a resilient overall third quarter performance, although the CEO is less expressive and prefers to be more down beat by describing it as “solid”. Nonethless even he admits they are excited as the integration of their latest acquisition, Mondo Minerals, commences.

Eckoh plc ECK has seen strong progress in both UK and US orders in the half year to the end of September. In the US it has already exceeded in in the first half the total contract value of $9.3m for US Secure Payments it achieved in in the whole of 2018. In the UK, it has seen excellent progress in contract wins and as in the US, the total value of new contracts won in in the first half has exceeded the total won in  2018.

1PM plc OPM updates prior to today’s AGM that in the first four months of the current year it has experienced a continuing robust level of demand. The strong trading has continued into October.

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Ian Pollard: Aveva In Either A Profit Or Loss Situation – You Choose

Aveva Group AVV There are now so many ways of calculating profits that the figures have become almost meaningless and companies have the freedom to chose between  profit before tax, on a diluted, adjusted, normal or  statutory basis and the difference between these four can be and often are enormous. Companies can elect the headline for their results as ranging from a whopping loss to a thumping big profit. For the year to the 31st March Aveva has chosen to present them on a combined basis which shows an 8.6% rise in revenue and profits slumping by 34.3% unless you prefer the statutory figure with a rise of 8.8% or, even better, a rise of 23.3% on an adjusted basis. Thus Chairman and CEOs are left with complete freedom as to how they can best describe the company’s performance. Aveva decides the year as being transformational and promises that the years ahead are going to be even more exciting. Nobody can agree or disagree with these comments when all we know is that the company is either making a loss, or if not, then it is making a profit.

Majestic Wine WINE returned to profit and describes itself as making headway in headwinds in the year to the 2nd April. Last years loss of 1.5m was turned into a profit of 8.3m, with Naked Wines, where sales rose by 11.8%, being the key driver. UK retail remained challenging. Reported revenue rose by 2.3% but the final dividend reflects the transformation into profit with a rise  from 3.6p to 5.2p. More important for the future is the fact that 20% of the business is now in the growth markets of the US and Australia.

PZ Cussons PZC has given plenty of notice of the bad times from which it is suffering in Nigeria and the UK and it now updates that trading in both these countries has continued to be difficult, with Nigeria actually getting worse. In other markets results have been robust and profit before tax for the full year is now expected to just scrape into the bottom end of the previously forecast range. Still worrying though to see how many of these household name companies are being dragged down by poor UK performances.

NWF Group NWF updates that it has delivered an outstanding performance, especially in fuels in the year to the end of May. Trading has been significantly ahead of both current market expectations and the previous year.


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Ian Pollard – Weir Group #WEIR, 50% rise in oil, gas & shale revenues

Weir Group plc WEIR performed strongly in its main markets and first quarter orders grew by 22%, with minerals up by 13%. Oil and gas led the way with a 50% rise after strong drilling and completion activity in North American onshore. Further success was encountered as it became the preferred provider to major shale pressure pumpers. Weir has also announced the acquisition of ESCO which has a  world-class team and will add another leading global brand.to its porfolio. It also intends to start the process of selling Flow Control with the aim of reallocating capital to build further on its core platforms.

Unilever ULVR made a good start to he year with first quarter sales  growth of 3.4% and emerging markets doing even better with 5.1%. The quarterly dividend is to be increased by 8% after what the company describes as a good volume driven performance across all three divisions. Markets in Europe remained challenging as a resut of weak consummer demand, prie deflation and a challenging retail environment, especially in France. A triple whammy if ever there was one.

Rentokil Initial RTO has started the year well with ongoing revenue up by 15.7% at constant exchange rates. although on an organic basis revenue growth of 3.2% was down on last years 3.7%. Another year of successful growth is expected for 2018 despite unseasonably cold weather in March having delayed the onset of the US pest season.

Telecom Plus TEP produced record levels of revenue, profit and dividends during the year to the end of March. The final dividend is to increased by 4.2% from 48p. per share to 50p.The success was achieved despite  a challenging environment created by record industry levels of domestic customers switching suppliers which TEP managed to keep below the industry average with its own customers. Profit before tax for 2019 is expected to be in the region of 55 to 60m.

Essentra plc ESNT proclains that it is continuing to “drive its stability agenda”. That must mean something when translated into Engish and I will try and discover exactly what before the end of the morning. It is possible that it may have something to do with its expectations of a return to like-for-like revenue growth and margin expansion in 2018.

Aveva Group AVV enjoyed strong trading for the year to the end of March. After revenue growth of 5.9% in the first half, .growth accelerated in the second half leading to a comfortable double digit rate for the year as a whole.

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Ian Pollard – Dixons Carphone will keep twitching its antenna

Dixons Carphone plc DC claims that its international businesses had a “terrific” Xmas but as is so often the sad story of late, the UK lagged far behind. In the 10 weeks to the 6th January, the star of the show was Greece with a like for like sales rise of 23%, followed by the Nordics with 11%. The UK and Ireland came last with a 3% rise compared to 6% for the company as  whole. Looking forward management asserts that it is keeping its antenna twitching.

Computacenter CCC describes 2017 as a year of great progress and it is now anticipated that adjusted pre tax results will be ahead of the Boards expectations, which have already been upgraded on a number of occasions during the year.Group revenue rose by 12% on a constant currency basis  but the UK produced the best quarter 4 growth seen for a number of years, with a rise of 16% just ahead of the Germans with 15% and France with 13%.

Aveva AVV is ahead of revenue expectations for the time of the year, having put in a strong performance for the nine months to the 31st December. Improving growth trends seen in the first half of the year have continued into the third quarter with Asia putting in a particularly strong performance and similar improvements have through into January.

AnimalCare Group ANCR Revenue for the year to 31st December was slightly ahead of expectations with a revenue rise of 9.5%, 10.9% on a like for like basis. The integration with Ecuphar which was acquired in July is going well.

Strix Group KETL maintained its clear market leading position during 2017 with a global volume share of some 39%. Results for the year to 31st December are expected to be in line but particularly strong cash flow should produce a significantly improved net debt performance.

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Solid trading from Aveva and Fenner – yet another placing from blur Group

AVEVA Group AVV reports a solid start to the financial year and expects the phasing of revenue in FY 2018 to be broadly similar to the prior year. The full year outlook remains in line with board expectations.

blur Group BLUR announces yet another placing to raise a minimum of £1.5m (before expenses) at 1.75 pence per Ordinary Share.

Dunelm DNLM provides a year end trading update, and says total Q4 revenue rose by 17.7% to £240.0m, with total like-for-like growth (combining LFL stores and Home Delivery) up 3.8%. CEO John Browett said the Worldstores acquisition “will provide a massive leap forward to our online and store offer that we think our customers will love.”

Fenner FENR updates on trading and continues to make strong progress, principally in new product development, augmented by a further increase in the US rig count. Cash flow during the period has remained in line with expectations and, on the basis of the improved outlook, most notably in the medical businesses, the Board anticipates that the Group’s operating profit for the financial year ending 31 August 2017 will be comfortably ahead of its previous expectations, with the added benefit of a reduced interest charge going forward.

Portmeirion PMP says total Group sales are up 16% for the six months ended 30 June 2017 relative to the same period last year, and it continues to expect profit before tax to be in line with market expectations for the full year.

Scholium Group SCHO the rare books and art company reported full year revenues of £6.12m (2016: £6.74m) and an adjusted operating loss of £224k (2016: £24k profit). Although the result was poor, Scholium recorded a turnaround to profitability during H2 once the uncertainty around the UK Referendum lifted. Following cost savings, CEO Jasper Allen said Scholium was now “well-placed to deliver a positive outcome.”

Severn Trent Admits To Love Affair With Customers.

Image result for severn trent logoSevern Trent SVT  trumpets  “Customers are at the heart of our business” , which no doubt, after all these years of rejection, must come as something of a surprise to those customers. Strange that it has taken all these years for Severn Trent’s management to wake up to the fact and give it such publicity. However, there does, appear to be an ulterior motive for this new found love affair, as there usually is when a company has to dig deep to find justifications for major increases in its dividends over the next few years. And to be fair to Severn Trent makes no bones about it. Customer delivery and strong operational improvements are its sole justifications for a new dividend policy which is upgraded to growth of at least RPI+4%, which will take the proposed 2017/18 dividend to 86.55 pence.

Group turnover rose by 3.7% for the year to 31st March, basic earnings per share were up by 19.9% or 4.9% on a like for like basis, whilst underlying PBIT was up by 4.3%. None of these figures you will note, gets anywhere near to exceeding RPI by 4%.

Image result for cranswick plc logoCranswick CWK is increasing its final dividend by 19.7% after a year of strong financial and strategic progress. Like for like revenue rose by 12.7% for the year to the end of March whilst adjusted profit before tax and earnings per share rose by17.2% and 17.6% respectively. It made further strong progress in its key export markets, particularly the Far East where revenue rose sharply by 49% and claims it is in excellent shape for the new financial year.

Image result for aveva logoAveva AVV produced a resilient performance in the face of challenging conditions in the year to the end of March. The final dividend is to be increased to 27p per share making an 11% rise for the year. Profit before tax rose by 60%, although on an adjusted basis this was reduced to 7%,  Basic earnings per share were up by 86% or 8% on an adjusted and diluted basis. Recurring revenue rose to 76.9% of total revenue, which on a constant currency basis was down by 3.8%.

Image result for big yellow group logoBig Yellow Group BYG is increasing its final dividend for the year to the end of March by 10%, making a total increase for the year of 11%. Like for like revenue rose by 6% but adjusted profit before tax and basic earnings per share each fell by 11% and 12%. The company excepts to break through the 80% occupancy level during the summer bringing it nearer to its admittedly long term goal of 85%

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The Prime Minister – Liar or Incompetent ?

From the Daily Mirror

The Prime Minister was either a liar when she claimed only a few months ago that there was no need for an election before 2020, or she was so completely out of touch with the political realities of Westminster that she is completely unfit to govern the country. In those months since the referendum, nothing has changed except that the prime minister has woken up to the fact that the groupings of our elected MP’s, especially in her own party, are going to make it very difficult if not impossible to get approval for even the main features of the Brexit deal. How is it that she has only discovered this over the last few days, when the evidence has been staring her in the face for months.

Had she been CEO or Chairman of a public company, yesterdays announcement that the country (i.e. the PM ) suddenly needs an election in June would have been evidence of such utter incompetence that she would have to either resign or be removed. But this being politics, anything goes and she will get away with it but she has now shown herself to be and to have been, completely out of touch with feelings both in Westminster and in the Tory party. And she is so brazen about it, no hint of an apology, no sign of embarrassment as she admits that she got it completely wrong after the referendum, indeed the complete opposite. She wears her incompetence as a badge of pride, a clear sign of strong leadership, which will enable her, she hopes, to have such a large majority that every tiny clause in the Brexit deal will be able to be steamrollered through a tame House of Commons.

BUNZL BNZL provides an excellent illustration as to how meaningless trading figures are becoming and how headline figures can easily be selected to give a misleading impression and make things look better than they really are. Not that Bunzl has done anything wrong or misled in any way. It is just the way things now have to be done.

Thus group revenue in quarter 1 rose by 18%. Great, fantastic, but that is at actual exchange rates i.e. in real money. At constant exchange rates the 18% falls to a lowly 4% and of that, underlying growth comes out at a not very impressive 2%. Acquisitions produced growth of 3% and a further five acquisitions have been announced so far this year.

Aveva Group AVEVA expects that results for the year to the end of March will show a return to growth in both revenue and profits but only because  of “positive currency translation effects”. Pity the board and the management could not have claimed a bigger hand in the success.

Bonmarche Holdings BON had a tough time with its stores in the year to the 1st April but trading in quarter 4 improved somewhat and helped the annual figures look a bit less gloomy. In the 14 weeks to 1st April online sales rose by 15.2%, store sales were down by only 0.5% and total sales actually rose by 2.7%. Despite this full year  figures were still less than impressive, with store like for like sales down by 4.3%, online up by only 2.2% and total sales still showing a loss of 0.5%. Trading since Christmas has been challenging despite an improvement over the last two months.

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Aveva Hikes Dividend As Profits Collapse

AVEVA AVV  The final dividend for the year to 31st March is being hiked by 20% after a 46% collapse in profit before tax. This fairly logical step follows revenue for the year to 31st March declining by 3% and basic earnings per share falling by 51%. Aveva would have us believe that this superb performance is due to strong customer relations, the strength of its business model and its disciplined approach to efficiency. Those of us who are still on planet earth, may have their doubts.

Entertainment One ETO is increasing its final dividend for the year to the end of March by 9%, in line with the rise in reported profit before tax. EBITA was up by 20% but diluted earnings per share fell by 23%. TV & Family enjoyed strong organic growthFilms was weak with revenue down 7% and underlying EBITDA down 28%. The Film division is to be punished with a wide ranging restructuring programme. Despite Films problems, the company is still on track to double the size of the business by 2020.

De La Rue DLAR Seems to have benefited from the disposal of its loss making bits and pieces which has helped to make the figures from the remaining bits and pieces look better. Like for like figures for the year to 26th March show revenue up by 7% and underlying profit up by 2% or 35% if you prefer your profits on a reported basis. It expects to be able to mitigate the ending of a material contract and one positive sign is that the 12 month order book is up by 62%. It has not quite got its head round the fact that “a10% net headcount reduction” means a10% reduction in the number of headcounts and not in the number  of heads but we know what they are trying to say even if they have not quite got the English to say it correctly.

Topps Tiles TPT continues its recovery with profit before tax up by 11% and earnings per share by 12.2% for the half year to the 2nd April. Like for like revenue grew by 4.7% and the second half has started even more strongly with like for like sales up by 8.4% in the first seven weeks.

The interim dividend is to be increased by 33.3%.

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Rio Tinto – The First Green Shoots of a Mining Recovery ?

Rio Tinto RIO The first green shoots of a recovery in mining may have been seen in RIO’s first quarter with iron ore shipments up by 11% and global iron ore production up by 13% on a year ago.  Bauxite production also rose by 6% and aluminium by 10%.  Mined copper was down 2% on the first quarter of 2015 but up by 27% on quarter 4, whilst at Oyu Tolgoi production rose by 71% on a year ago.

Associated British Foods ABF produced a 115% rise in profit before tax in the 24 weeks to the 27th February, whilst basic earnings per share rose by 150%, despite only 3% growth in group revenue. And this time it was not all down to Primark. Progress was seen in all the groups businesses with an improved performance at Sugar, profits well ahead in Ingredients, improved profit margins at Grocery & Agriculture and Primark of course continuing its expansion. Even the challenges of currency movements appear to have been beaten off and the interim dividend is to be increased by 3%.

SAGA plc SAGA Robust growth for the year to the end of January has enabled Saga to increase its full year dividend by 75%. Profit before tax was up by 54% and basic earnings per share by 54.4%

Aveva Group AVV expects group revenue and adjusted profits before tax to be broadly in line for the year to 31st March but the results have been impacted by the weakness of the US$ in March.

Utilitywise UTW Is increasing its interim dividend by 29% after further strong growth saw revenue up by 36% in the half year to the end of January and adjusted pre tax profits by 17%. With new customers growing by 33%, the company claims it holds an unrivalled market position.

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