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Card Factory plc CARD claims a robust performance in a challenging consumer environment for the year to the 31st December. Unfortunately looking at the actual figures, robust must mean different things to different people.. True, revenue rose by 3% although on a like-for-like basis sales were flat. However profit before tax fell by 8.3%, EBITDA by 8.7% and basic earnings per share by 12%. Cover for the ordinary dividend fell from 2.03x to 1.89x
Galliford Try plc GFRD is undertaking a strategic review which will reduce the size of the Construction business. It is anticipated that as a result profitability will be reduced by £30m-£40m below current consensus analysts’ forecasts. The damage reflects a reassessment of some legacy and current contracts, the effect of some recent adverse settlements and the costs of the restructure. The single largest element relates to the Queensferry Crossing venture where costs have increased.These are in addition to the claim in respect of the completed Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route, and the previously disclosed £38m work in progress balance in respect of three contracts for a single client, Significantly management appears to have avoided laying any blame at its own door.
JD Sports Fashion JD reports record results for the 52 weeks to the 2nd February with revenue up by 49,2% and EBITDA by 26.8%. Profit before tax rose by 15.4% and the total dividend is increased from 1.63p per share to 1.71. No need to worry about the meaning of robust, there, with total like for like sales growth in global Sports Fashion fascias of more than 6%.
G4S plc GFS updates for the three months to the end of March 2019 that Group revenue was 4.8% higher than the first quarter of last year, with growth in all regions and divisions.. Good progress is being made with the separation review which has the aim of turning the group into two strong, independent businesses that are able to take advantage of their market leading positions. The Board believes that this has the potential to unlock substantial shareholder value.
Next plc NXT First half full price sales were up +4.5% on last year,. ahead of the +1.0% guidance given in January and the +2.2% given in May and even coming as a surprise to Next itself which admits that its performance was flattered by the unusually warm summer. The reality is that the market is still volatile and those headwinds continue to batter retailers in General. The even harsher truth is that over the past 10 years retail sales have fallen by 10% in whilst like-for-like sales are down by 32%. Next even admits that it does not know what the high street will look like in 10 years’ time which means that future will involve a constant process of reinvention and experimentation in the hope that somewhere along the line, it will get things right.
Imperial Brands IMB updates that the business is performing well with the tobacco business delivering a much stronger second half and volumes for the full year outperforming the industry. Revenue growth will remain in line with previous guidance.
Card Factory plc CARD describes its interim results for the half year to 31st July as “solid”. Online sales growth was strong but like for like sales fell by 3.1% hit by the usual disasters of a weak consumer environment, particularly challenging footfalls across the high street and those dreaded headwinds the effects of which are being mitigated through improved efficiency.Profit before tax and basic earnings per share grew by 17.2% and 17.1% respectively and the shareholders are of course being looked after with a special dividend of 5p per share on top of the maintained ordinary dividend of 2.9p.
Harvey Nash Group HVN has now substantially completed its transformation programme and despite a weaker market, produced a robust performance in the half year to the 31st July. Gross profit rose by 7.2% and on a like for like basis was even stronger with a rise of 11.1%. Profit before tax increased by 19.2% and earnings per share by 22.6%. The interim dividend is to be increased by 6.5% to 1.75p per share. All this, says the CEO, achieved in a challenging market with the UK business delivering a a robust performance and Vietnam performing strongly.
First Group plc FGP The year to the 31st March saw adjusted operating profit fall by 10% on a constant currency basis and a statutory loss before tax reflected in part, the onerous provisions of the contracts on Trans Pennine rail franchises, carefully omitting to mention that these onerous provisions were not forced on the company, it actually volunteered for them. The CEO departs from the company today. Revenue at constant currency rose by 14% during the year but the statutory loss before tax more than doubled from 152.6m. to 326.9m. and earnings per share tumbled from 9.3p per share to a loss of 24.6p. At Greyhound like for like revenue fell by 0.7% as it failed to meet the competition of ultra low cost airlines. Admissions are also made that Great Western and South Western have operational challenges to overcome. Taken all in all a bit of a second class performance all round.
Johnson Matthey JMATT The year to the 31st March was a year of significant progress with sales on an underlying basis and excluding precious metals, rising by 8% and profit before tax by 1%. It is proposed to increase the final dividend by 7%. Mid to high single digit growth in operational performance is expected in the current year, with the second half being stronger than the first.
Card Factory plc CARD provides an update on first quarter trading to the 30th April and “tough trading environment” gets three mentions in a comparatively short release. The first is to headline the tough trading environment, the second is to stress that it did not prevent a solid seasonal performance and group like for like sales only fell by 0.4% which is regarded as a robust performance. Nor was it so tough that it prevented anticipation to return further cash to shareholders, towards the end of the current year.
Brady plc BRY The executive chairman claims to be delighted to be able to report that the company has failed to exceed its management expectations during the first four months of the year and announces that he regards that as substantial progress.
Card Factory plc CARD seems undecided as to how to explain the impact of increased costs which it blames for a fairly large drop in profits whilst at the same promising another special dividend for shareholders of between 5-10p per share with the half year results. The problem is that apart from increased foreign exchange costs the other major impact on profits has been the cost of having to pay a living wage to staff. That really is very unfair. Think what other goodies the shareholders could have had but for that living wage problem. As it is the shareholders have had to make do with dividend increases measured in fractions of pence, the final dividend rising by 1.6%% and the total ordinary dividend up by a mere 2.2% per share unless you include the whacking special dividend of 15 pence per share paid on the 22nd December. Things are so good that there is likely to be another return of cash to shareholders at the next year end of between. 5 and 10p per share. Proof of how good things really are is shown by a fall of 12.3% in profit before tax and 11.3% in basic earnings per share, occasioned no doubt by the strong like for like sales growth both from the stores and online and the delivery of a strong program of cost mitigation.
Thus do some companies expose their management.
Eddie Stobart ESL saw a substantial fall in underlying profits for the year to 30th November. Profits were down by nearly a third from £37.8m to V24m despite a rise in revenue from £549m. to £623.9m and statutory earnings per share fell from 3.p per share to 1.2p A final dividend of 4.4p per share is proposed, making 5.8p per share for the full year. The new financial year has got off to good start.
Plant Health Care PHC Claims exciting progress in the year to the end of December with external sales growth in the Rest of the World rising by 100% and sales of commercial products returning to strong growth with a rise of 21%. After two difficult years both the operating loss and loss before tax were halved.
Hydrogen Group HYDG plans to resume dividend payments with a final dividend of 0.8p for the year to 31st December which it describes as a transformational year.Net fee income for the year rose by 29% and underlying profit before tax of £0.8m was the same as the previous year.
Card Factory CARD produced sales growth of 6.7% in the 9 months to the 31st October fuelled by the opening of 38 net new stores, bringing the UK total to 903 and with more to come during the final quarter. The strong first half sales performance has continued into quarter 3 but profits will be impacted for the rest of the year by foreign exchange pressures and by having to pay a living wage to its employees! Not many companies are so brazen or clueless as to admit that paying a living wage is a problem. Presumably back to Victorian times and the problem may be solved – but how many could then afford to buy cards and how many card shops were there festooning the high streets. If the country saw widespread wage reductions to help companies cope with so called pressures, the Card Factory could be closing shops, not opening new ones.
Barratt Developments BDEV Updates in advance of today’s AGM that it has made a strong start to the new financial year with forward sales up 8.4% between the 1st July and the 12th November, helped by good market conditions and the wide availability of attractive mortgage finance. 2018 is expected to produce a good operational performance.
Experian EXPN is on course to deliver stronger organic revenue growth as the year progresses and after a first half produced revenue and EBIT growth of 5%. On a statutory basis profit before tax for the six months to the 30th September fell by 7% and basic earnings per share by 15%. The first interim dividend is to be increased by 4%.
Wizz Air Holdings WIZZ announces that it has ordered 146 Airbus A320neo aircraft worth $17.2bn at current list prices. Deliver is to start in 2022 and will enable Wizzair to extend its market reach beyond Europe and to make further reductions in operating costs.
TalkTalk Telecom TALK is slashing its interim dividend by over 50% after managing to turn last years first half profit of £30m into a statutory loss before tax of £75m this year meaning that it will only be able to pay shareholders 2.5p per share instead of last years 5.29p. Statutory revenue fell from £902. to £856m but the company has now produced its third consecutive quarter of growth, so things may be on the mend.
United Utilities UU complains that its customers and the area in which they live suffer from high levels of income deprivation ie “a damaging lack of basic material benefits.” I wonder what its customers think to that slur. Shareholders need not fear however, as the company has “innovative facilities for enhanced engagement with its customers” – i.e bad debts are being kept under control.
Gross revenue this year will be slightly lower than last year but it still expects record operating profits. These however will be impacted by reforms and restructuring costs. Now a well managed company can not allow problems like that, amounting to some £16m, to affect its results, so it has decided to ignore them and exclude them from its underlying profit calculations at the end of the year. Those of us who are not accountants, may view that with a certain incredulity
Thomas Cook TCG is closing its winter booking season at similar levels to last year but with average selling prices down 1%. Summer bookings are so far up 10% on last year, led by Greece with a huge surge of 40% and signs of a return taking place to Turkey and Egypt. In the airline sector competition to the Spanish islands is putting downward pressure on prices.
Churchill China CHH is increasing its final dividend by 16% after a strong 2016 performance. Revenue for the year to 31st January rose by 9%, leading to rises of 29% and 30% in basic earnings per share and profit before tax.
Moss Bros MOSB had a successful 2016 with profit before tax for the year to 31st January rising by 20.3% and basic earnings per share by 17%. The final dividend is being increased to 3.98p per share making a total rise of 6.1% for the year. Retail like for like sales in the first seven weeks of the new year are up by 4.3% but like for like hire has collapsed by 14.3% due to an in store offer.
Card Factory CARD boasts of another record year with operating profit down by 3.7% and basic earnings per share and profit before tax both down by 1.1%. The final dividend for the year to 31st January is to be increased by 5% making a total increase for the year of 7.1%.
Thomas Cook TCG has been hit hard in Continental Europe with prices down 3% compared to last year on top of a 9% fall in bookings. Belgium is down significantly following the Brussels terror attacks and Germany is showing a 6% fall compared to 2015. Overall today’s pre close update shows strong demand for most destinations except Turkey which remains volatile. Winter sales are in line with last year despite the work the company claims it has done in trying to improve customer satisfaction.
Next Fifteen.com NFC is raising its interim dividend by 25% to 1.5p per share after revenue rose by 30.3% for the six months to 31st July. Sales in the US were particularly strong with a like for like growth of 17.2% compared to 12.8% overall. Profit before tax was up by 47.2% and EBITDA by 50.6%.
Legal & General LGEN In the three months since 30th June the Retirement Division has written sales of over £1.4 billion compared to £2.9 billion for the whole of 2015. The Divisions full year sales are expected to be double those of last year.
Card Factory CARD is paying a special dividend of 15p per share and increasing its interim dividend by 12% for the half year to the 30th July. Profit before tax rose by 7.3% and basic earnings per share by 7.1%. Sales growth has been lower than normal, following what the company describes as softer footfall, which presumably means that customers are treading more carefully.