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Ian Pollard – Burberry #BRBY revenue falls; excitement with brand heat & social conversation

Burberry Group plc BRBY would have you believe that customers are experiencing excitement ahead of new product delivery. They are also building brand heat and that is causing the customer excitement to grow even more. Digital engagement is also high on the list of jargon in todays update which is for the 13 weeks to the 29th December. Unfortunately the figures will not create any excitement as they show retail revenue fell by 1% during the thirteen weeks or 2% at constant exchange rates.Social conversation reached c57 million consumers during the Festive season. The company seems to appear to be proud of that even if it did not do much for revenue. In case you missed it first time round hey are keen to confirm this brand heat thing.

Antofagasta ANTO finished the year strongly with record copper production for the quarter whilst net cash costs for the quarter were the lowest since 2012. 2019 is expected to start with real momentum for what the company expects to be another record-setting year’ with production increasing by up to 9% to 750-790,000 tonnes.Group and copper production also set a record for the year and fourth quarter gold production increased by 87% over the previous quarter. Gold, copper and molybdenum production in 2019 are all expected to set new records.

WH Smith plc SMWH claims a strong trading performance across the Group for the 20 weeks to the 19th January.Total sales rose by 6% and like for like by 3%, The High Street is said to be doitg well with a sales fall of 1%, whilst the international business has continued to grow and now has over 420 stores.

Hotel Chocolat Group HOTC updates that total Group revenue for 13 weeks to the 30th December increased by 15% compared to the previous year. 15 new stores were opened during the six months to the end of December,

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Ian Pollard – Burberry #BRBY Forced To Adopt Meaningless Jargon

Burberry Group BRBY   claims to have completed global roll out of new digital clienteling tool. Despite this first quarter comparable sales have grown 3%, which it finds pleasing.Even worse in the jargon stakes it is engaging consumers with frequent and sometimes unexpected “drops of fresh product”.  The final insult to the intelligence of its readers, shareholders and customers is its claim that “Farfetch collaboration” is performing ahead of its expectations. What management in its right mind, especially one trying to market high end luxury goods, is so lacking in know how, that it proudly admits to having anything in its armoury which is far fetched

Barratt Developments BDEV updates that it has produced a strong financial and operational performance for the year to the 30th June and achieved 17,579 completions the highest level in a decade. Helped by a strong end to the year, profit before tax expected to be around £835m a rise of some 10% on last years figure.

Wetherspoon JDW in the 10 weeks to the 8th July like for like sales rose by 5.2% sales. In his by now almost one man battle to ensure that Brexit happens, Chairman, Tim Martin explains in detail the benefits of Brexit to both Wetherspoons and many other companies. “The main advantage of Brexit is that the EU is a protectionist system that imposes high tariffs on non-EU imports such as wine, rice, coffee, oranges, children’s shoes and clothes, and over 12,000 other products.  “Leaving the EU allows the UK to adopt the approach of countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Switzerland and Australia by dismantling the tariff walls, which improves general living standards.He ends with a quote from the Australian High Commissioner that there was never a country that embraced free trade that was poor as a result.

Page Group plc PAGE The second quarter produced a number of records with a record 16% rise in profits and a record total profit for any quarter of 202m. The rise of 16% was the highest quarterly growth rate for seven years. For the half year total profits rose by 12.5% or 14% at constant exchange rates.

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Ian Pollard – Mitchells & Butler – Reports Results on a Snow Adjusted Basis

Mitchells & Butler MAB tries to claim a strong performance for the half year to the 14th April but is reduced in the process to having to adjust its growth figures by calculating the impact of snow. Thus  like for like sales growth of 1.6% becomes 2.5% on a snow adjusted basis. In the end it decides to give up the pretence  and restore its credibility by admitting that underlying profitability remained flat, which is in itself perhaps something of an exaggeration with reported profit before tax down from £75m to £69m. It is a pity when management has to admit that it can not tell the difference between flatness and a fall. Basic earnings per share came in at 13p as against 13.7p

SSP Group SSPG reports another strong performance for the half year to the 31st March, with underlying  profit before tax rising  by 40.3% and earnings per share by 33.3%. Like for like sales increased by 2.8%. The interim dividend is to be increased by 50% to 4.8p per share.

Burberry Group BRBY saw 2018 as a year of transition which would leave the company ready to start its transformation.  Like for like sales for the year to the 31st March grew by 3%, together with growth in both profit and cash flow. Revenue for the year fell by 1% both on a reported basis and and at constant exchange rates. Adjusted operating profit was up by 2% on a reported basis and by 5% at constant exchange rates and adjusted diluted earnings per share was up by 6% and 10% respectively. The final dividend is being increased by 6% from 38.9p per share to 41.3p. The outlook for 2019 includes a proposed share buy back of 150m.

Coats Group plc COA is now undergoing a transformation which will accelerate its transition from the industrial age to the digital age. In the first four months of the year it has seen robust growth of 4% in its core thread business and double digit growth continued in Performance Materials with a rise of 19%. Group sales were up  5% at constant exchange rates with a strong performance from the industrial business with growth of 6%.

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Pearson Selling The Family Silver

Pearson plc PSON  The best that can be said about Pearsons 2017 results is that they came out at the top end of guidance and that the restructuring programme is on track. Nonetheless underlying revenues fell by 2% due to a 4% decline in North America where US higher education coursework fell by 3% despite a rise of 9% in digital coursework. For 2018 further falls are possible and adjusted operating profit is expected to be between £520m and £560m after disposals compared to 2017’s £ 570 to £575m. Disposals which were completed in 2017 included a 22% stake in Penguin Random House. Perhaps it is time that management woke up to the fact that there is only a limited supply of family silverware and in the end it runs out.

Burberry Group BRBY not surprisingly saw retail revenue down by 2% in the quarter to the 30th December which management should perhaps be reminded, included Christmas, although to be fair, on a comparative store basis, they did manage an increase of 2%. Here is another former stalwart of British retail  whose management is trying to transform it and to do so with strings of meaningless verbiage. The aim is to establish it firmly in luxury – it does not actually say ” luxury what” but no doubt they will get round to deciding that later.They seem to have completely forgotten that the company was for decades firmly esconsed in the luxury goods market and apparently no longer is..This great transformation is going to be underpinned by “people strategies”, We will also see a “global engagement campaign” for employees and best and most important of all “the piloting of  new enhanced digital sales associate tools.”At least management is not lost for words, it is just sales it is a bit short of.

Beazley plc BEZ expects to report that pre tax profits for the year to the end of December will be ahead of current market expectations, helped partly by a reduction in US Corporation tax rates from 35% to 21%.

Cineworld CINE achieved growth of  11.6% in the year to 30th December after admissions increased compared to 2016. Another year of progress is expected for 2018 after refurbishments and selective site closures duing 2017.

Royal Mail Responds To Challenges

Royal Mail Group RMG One can adjust ones view of Royal Mails results for the year to 31st March, according to whether one prefers ones results on a reported or on an adjusted basis.Whichever one prefers the final dividend of 15.6% means a rise for the year of 4%. On a reported basis, profit before tax has risen by some 50% to £335m and basic earnings per share have risen from 21.5p to 27.5p.

Its main achievement for the year has been to respond to a challenging operating environment. No explanation is given as to what management found challenging in managing to deliver parcels and letters on time but these days no self respecting company misses the opportunity to say it operates in challenging conditions, which helps to make management look better than it actually is. On a positive note for the current years performance, RMG says it is past the peak of its investment spend.

Burberry Group BRBY tried to elevate its business in the year to 31st March, using key revenue drivers to enable it to  gain the necessary height. It also had growth in digital as it invested in omni channel – the ignorant amongst us may ask “omni channel” what ? Elevating the brand appears to have resulted in profit before tax falling by 21% on an underlying basis and 5% on an adjusted and reported basis, Dividends for the full year are to be increased by 5%. A new CEO will also come on board soon. Let us hope for the sake of  Burberry that he will have and keep his feet on the ground.

Greggs GRG has made a good start to the year with sales up by 7.5% on the first 19 weeks to the 13th May. There is growing demand for its £2 breakfast and for Balanced Choice but what may one ask will happen to the good old sausage sarnie – will that too become just a symbol of a bygone age? 87 shops have been refurbished during the year

Thomas Cook TCG enjoyed strong winter demand for Spain and long haul destinations led to a 3% revenue rise for the six months to 31st March. Online UK bookings have risen by 15%, way behind the Germans who are showing a rise of 35%. summer demand is strong for Greece and smaller European destinations,with  bookings from Northern & Continental Europe showing double digit growth and confirming that there is real momentum  behind managements strategy for growth.  Greece has proved to be the outstanding destination for the coming summer.

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