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Ian Pollard: Hothschild Starts Delivering Exciting Results

Hochschild Mining HOC is increasing its interim dividend by 42% for the six months to the 30th June, as the exploration pogramme starts delivering exciting results. Attributable gold production for the half year rose by 14% and silver by 8%. Adjusted basic earnings per share were up by 67%. Record gold production at Immaculada helped to make the first half a strong one. The rise in the price of gold during the first half was offset by a fall in the price of silver but still led to an 8% rise in revenue.

Balfour Beatty plc BBY saw basic earnings per share rise five fold from 2p to 10.1p per share during the six months to the 29th June and the interim dividend is to be increased by 33%.   Underlying operating profit increased by 69% to £66 million from £39.m in 2017. and the order book rose by11%.

Hikma Pharmaceutical HIK was another first half winner, producing a performance which exceeded expectations. Operating profit rose  by 54% in the six months to the 30th June, after group revenue rose by 11%. Basic earnings per share were up by 53% and the interim dividend is being increased increased from last years 11 cents to 12 cents per share.

CLS Holdings plc CLI claims delivery of robust and disciplined first half growth with profit before tax for the six months to the 30th June falling from 119.4 m. last year to 64.9m this year. Basic earnings per share collapsed from 24.5% to 14.9%. As can often happen in these circumstances growth is limited to the dividend which is being increased by 7.3% to 2.2p per share. The Executive Chairman pronounces that the strong half year results

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Ian Pollard – Ashtead (AHT) to exceed expectations

Ashtead Group AHT is to increase its interim dividend by 16% and will also over the next 18 months, commence a share buy back programme of up to £1bn. The second quarter results showed growth exceeding that achieved in the first quarter and it is expected that full year results will now exceed expectations. For the half year to the 31st October rental revenue rose by 20%, profit before tax by 23% and earnings per share by 22%’

Balfour Beatty BBY reports that its performance to date is in line but still insists on ignoring the fact that the ludicrous and oft used name of its quality programme “Build to Last”  just acts as a constant reminder of the horrors of the not too distant past.

Driver Group DRV saw  a significant improvement on all fronts in the year to the 30th September with like for like revenue rising by 15%. Last years loss of £0.4m has been turned into a profit before tax of £2.5m and net borrowings slumped from £9.9m to £0.2m and are continuing to fall further.

Zytronic ZYT The year to the 30th September saw a significant improvement in trading profit which rose from £4.3m to £5.4m, with basic earnings per share up by 29%. The final dividend is to be increased by 39% making a total rise of 32% for the full year. A sound  base has now been created, says the company, for further dividend increases in the future.

Joules Group JOUL updates that it has performed well in the half year to the 26th November, with group revenue rising by 18.2% in constant currency. Further expansion has been delivered across channels and products, reflecting the growing appeal of its brands as well as a growing customer base which now exceeds  more than 1 million active customers.

Servoca plc SVCA A strong financial performance across all five of its business areas during the year to the 30th September saw revenue rise by 15.9% and adjusted profit before tax  and EBITDA up by 11.4% and and 12.8% respectively.  The final dividend is increased to 0.4p, a rise of14.3p

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Balfour Beatty transforming itself

Balfour Beatty BBY is increasing its interim dividend by 33% to 1.2p per share after underlying operating profit for the six months to the 30th June more than tripled from £11m to £39m, as the transformation of the company continues. Underlying revenue rose by 8% at constant exchange rates, profitability is rising and orders from the US and the UK are strong.

Sirius Minerals SXX announces that excellent progress has been made during the last six months in the development of the Woodsmith Mine and its associated infrastructure. Highway works have been completed and commencement of shaft sinking is now eagerly awaited. Worldwide interest in future supplies of POLY4 remains strong.

Lookers LOOK claims and excellent set of results for the half year to the 30th June with growth across all areas of the business and the interim dividend is to be increased by 10%. On a like for like basis profit before tax rose by 14% and earnings per share by 15%

Hochschild Mining HOC suffered from the volatility of precious metal prices during the first half of the year  and saw profit before tax slump from $60.3m to $39.9m. The outlook for the second half is that it is still on track to deliver its full year record production target of 37m silver equivalent ounces. An interim dividend of 1.38 cents has been declared.

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Sainsbury Clams Up On Food Sales

Sainsbury (J) plc SBRY Like for like group retail sales at Sainsbury fell by 0.5% in the 9 weeks to the 11th March but very, very strangely it tries to get away with keeping its food sales secret.  Argos did very well with a like for like rise of 4.3% and TU clothing did even better with a market beating rise of 5% but combined like for like sales rose by only 0.3%. So what kept the combined rise so small. Why do food sales not get a mention ? What else is left to account for the overall retail decline but food. Hands up please all those who can remember one of the countries leading supermarkets failing to provide in a trading update, figures for its food sales. It does not take an Einstein to work out that if clothing is up 5% and Argos is up by 4.3%, something must have kept that combined rise so low and also caused the decline at Sainsbury itself.  Why has Sainsbury suddenly gone all shy about food sales.

It claims food sales were solid but it then goes on for paragraph after boring paragraph, explaining its customer philosophy in what is supposed to be a trading update. If food sales were all that solid, one would have expected the details to support the claim, other than news of the introduction of butternut squash waffles and sweet potato tagliatelle. 

M&C Saatchi SAA had an outstanding year in 2016 producing both record revenue and earnings. Revenue rose by 19% or 9% on a like for like basis, earnings per share were up by 21.07% and profit before tax by 18%.  The final dividend is to be increased by 15% and a good start has been made to 2017

Balfour Beatty BBY Claims that its return to profit after two years of losses, is proof that its transformation is well under way. The order book is up by 4% at constant exchange rates and a final dividend of 1.8p per share is to be paid, making a total of 2.7p for the full year. Due acknowledgement is given to the part played in the recovery, by the weakness of sterling.

FW Thorpe TFW had such an exceptionally buoyant first half that it resulted in the “imposition” of high levels of overtime and shift working at its largest subsidiary Thorlux Lighting, which in turn led to higher overheads. Revenue for the six months to the end of December rose by 23.8%, basic earnings per share by by 20.3% and profit before tax by 18%. The interim dividend is increased by 12.5% to 1.35p per share.

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What’s In A Name – Ask Balfour Beatty

Balfour Beatty plc BBY Any construction company which calls its transformation programme “Build to Last” has obviously got serious problems as the repeated use of the name just provides further reminders of past problems. The sooner it removes the blinkers and changes the name of the programme the better for the company. The first phase of the transformation is nearing completion but there are still 2 years to go before it can achieve industry standard margins so there is plenty of time in which to find a more marketable name for it and bury the past – even simply “transformation programme” would be enough if it is beyond the wit of management to find something more alluring.

Bellway plc BWY Robust customer demand has enabled Bellway to put in a strong performance over the 18 weeks since the first August which produced a 7% increase in the reservation rate. For the year as a whole volume growth of 5% is expected.

NCC Group NCC First half group revenue grew by 35% with strong like for like growth of 18% but the loss of profitability caused by 3the cancellation of 3 contracts and the deferral of a fourth will not now be made up for by the year end at the 31st May. Full year adjusted EBITDA is seen as coming in at 5%, less than earlier expectations.

Zytronic ZYT is increasing its dividend by 20% for the year to the end of September after a significant improvement in trading profits and making it the company”s third successive year of double digit dividend growth. Exports now account for 95% of total revenue. There has been an encouraging start to the new year with orders, revenue and trading all ahead of last year.

Veltyco VLTY Following strong fourth quarter trading, full year results are expected to be ahead of market expectations.

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Balfour Beatty Rebuilding Itself To Last

Balfour Beatty BBY is reinstating dividends with an interim payment of 0.9p for the half year to the 1st July. Despite underlying revenue being down 6% on a year ago, last years first half loss of £130m has been transformed into an underlying profit before tax of £7m, the second successive half of underlying profitability. The order book is up by 7% if you ignore exchange rate movements which in underlying real life, one can not do. The transformation of the company claims the Group CEO, come from the benefits of its badly named “Build To Last” programme, which casts serious doubt on the quality of what it was building previously.

Lookers LOOK claims an excellent set of results for the half year to 30th June and a record performance from the motor division. Revenue rose by 33% and profit before tax and earnings per share were both up by 17%. Net debt at £74m has been more than halved. The interim dividend is to be raised accordingly with a payment of 1.28p per share, a rise of 20%.

Laura Ashley ALY Like for like retail sales for the 74 weeks to 30th June rose by 4.1% and online sales did even better with a rise of 15.7%. Profit before tax and exceptionals was virtually the same as for the previous 53 week period. A final dividend of 0.5p per share is to be paid, making a total of 2.5p for the 74 weeks.

Admiral Group ADM produced strong first half growth in both customers and turnover, with rises of 15% and 19% taking both to record levels.  Group profit before tax failed to match those heady figures, with a meagre rise of 4% as did earnings per share which were up by only 2%. However it was decided to keep the record breaking going and the interim dividend is to be increased by 23% to a record 62.3p per share.

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