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Ian Pollard: Rank Tough Trading Dominates

Rank Group plc RNK describes trading in the first half of the year as tough and looking at the figures that seems to be an understatement, although an improved second quarter seems to have instilled some confidence as to the prospects for a better second half. As for the first half the minus signs overwhelmingly dominate. Profit before tax is down 30.5% or 27.6% on an adjusted basis and earnings per share fell by 23.8%. Apart from digital revenue and digital like for like revenue which rose 5.1% and 15.8% respectively, the only other figure  not showing a minus sign is the interim dividend  which remains unchanged at 2.15 p. per share.

Unilever plc ULVR 2018 showed continued profitable growth in volatile markets.  Adverse currency movements impacted turnover by 6.7% but 4th quarter and full year sales still grew by 2.9% and earnings per share were up by 5.2%. Market conditions were challenging throughout the year, particularly in the second half. Accelerating growth will be the number one priority. for 2019 building on what the company describes as a solid 2018

BT Group Plc BT updates on its nine month and third quarter performances to the 31st December. Reported revenue fell by 1%. but Reported profit before tax rose by 20%. The outgoing Chief Executive was happy that they had continued to deliver consistently against their strategic objectives in a tough market.

Diageo DGE  delivered a strong consistent performance during the six months to the 31st December Reported net sales  rose by 5.8%, operating profit by 11%, driven by organic growth which grew ahead of net sales at 12.3%. and the interim dividend is to be increased by 5% to 26.1p per share. Basic earnings per share declined by 1.3 pence per share.

Dairy Crest Group DCG The four main brands, Cathedral City, Clover, Country Life and Frylight – all delivered strong volume and revenue growth for the third quarter ended 31 December 2018. On a combined basis revenue growth came in at around 10% for the third quarter and 6% for the nine months ended 31 December 2018. Spreads  continue to gain market share. Frylight returned to double digit volume and revenue growth in the third quarter, although a challenging first half saw the nine month figures for the brand decline. The Chief Executive describes the performance of the key brands in the third quarter as having been exceptional.  Brexit is creating significant uncertainty.

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