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Ian Pollard – Telecom Plus #TEP Delivers New Records

Telecom Plus TEP delivered record revenue, profits and dividends in the year to the 31st March, with growth and momentum becoming significantly faster.  The impact of a warm winter and the Ofgem price cap have led to expectations that pre-tax profits will be towards the lower end of previous guidance at around £56m.  For 2020 however it is expected that accelerating growth will lead to  adjusted profit before tax of between £60m and £65m and a 10% increase in the total dividend to 57p per share, compared to this years 4% rise to 52p per share,

Countryside Properties plc CSP reports solid trading in the 6 months to the 31st March, with completions up by 43%, the private average selling price down by 4% and a strong forward order book up 49%. After a slow start to the year, the spring selling season is described as having been robust. Completions are expected to be weighted towards the second half.

Bunzl plc BNZL Group revenue in the first quarter from the 31st December increased by 4% at actual exchange rates whilst at constant exchange rates the rise was 2.5%. The rate of underlying revenue growth however slowed during the quarter due to mixed macroeconomic and market conditions across the countries in which the Group operates, especially in North America.

ZOO Digital Group ZOO reports that the financial outturn for 2019 is frustrating and has been impacted by market shifts and client disruption, The company has already disclosed that planned investment has impacted on profitability to such an extent  that adjusted EBITDA in the second half will be around break-even at around $0.5m.

SEGRO plc SEGRO has continued to grow well during the quarter commencing on the 1st January. Increasing occupancy, uplifts from rent reviews and renewals and development activity, all contributed to securing £21 million of new headline rent. 44 projects are currently under construction, 72% of which are already leased, and  expected to generate £57 million of annualised rent. The vacancy rate has reduced to 4.4 per cent with decrease since December reflecting strong lettings of both existing and recently completed speculative space.

Dialight plc DIA continues to work on its recovery and global end markets continue to be robust.The Board expects further progress to be made in 2019 and the Group’s results to be heavily weighted towards the second half.

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Ian Pollard – WH Smith #SMWH benefits from “potentially poisonous” slime related products

WH Smith plc SMWA  appears to be well esconced in cloud cuckoo land with a claim that it had a good year in the High Street where trading profit fell by 3%. Nonetheless it identified and joined the latest trend by becoming a one-stop-shop for all “slime related” products. Not surprisingly a relationship to slime  was followed by a 3% fall in revenue,which is perhaps a good thing. Despite the strength of travel where revenue rose by 3% on a like for like basis, group profit before tax for the year to 31st August was down by 4% and diluted earnings per share by 5%. All this lack of success resulted in a 13% rise in the final dividend, no doubt well justified and logical in the eyes of the board. Let us hope that those slime related products are not as unsafe and potentially harmful as some busybodies like Which are beginning to suggest. Otherwise that 3% drop in revenue may be regarded as having been a good year as news of alleged safety problems including burns begin to surface. The dangers of slime related toys were exposed by The Telegraph as recently as July when it reported that consumer watchdogs found many slime related toys are potentially poisonous because of their boron content.exposure to excessive levels of which can cause irritation, diarrhea, vomiting and cramps in the short term,

Countryside Props CSP produced one of the biggest disasters to hit the house building industry in recent times. It was forced to reduce its average selling price by 7% in the year to the 30th September due to what is described as “regional mix”.(nothing to do with Mother’s Pride I am assured) However, with the average selling price still as high as 402,000 there is still plenty of room for more good news for the few who can still afford to buy a house. Completions for the year rose by 27% and as at the year end the total order book was up by 40% compared to 2017

Dunelm Group plc DNLM reports total like for like revenue growth of +4.2% in its first quarter to the 29th September, compared to 9.3% for the previous year. In fact but for tablet-based selling in-store for home delivery, underlying like for like performance would have fallen by 0.4% which is not a good sign at all. Online sales however helped to save the day with a rise of 33% which would have been even greater at over 50% had those in store online tablet sales been included.

Hays plc HAS claims a good start to its financial year, with yet another record quarterly net fee performance producing growth of 9%. The Rest of The World in particular showed strong growth with the USA and China, up 27% and 29% respectively.

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Ken Baksh: August Investment Review….Stay with equities versus bonds….for the time being!

August  2018 Market Report

During the month to July 31 st, 2018, major equity markets displayed a stronger trend and the VIX index fell significantly, indicative of a preference for greater risk-taking. There continued to be an abundance of market moving news over the period whether at corporate, economic or political level.

The European Central Bank appeared to become more certain of removing QE over coming quarters but delaying any interest rate increase until 2019, while economic news was generally dull. Political events were not in short supply, and in Turkey for example, dramatically affected bond and currency markets. European leaders and policy makers are having an uncharacteristically active summer, with debates on US tariffs, immigration, Japanese trade pact and post Brexit implications just four of the more topical issues.  US market watchers continued to grapple with ongoing tariff discussions, Federal Budget, Iranian nuclear/sanctions, NAFTA friction and North Korean meeting uncertainty as well as domestic issues. Economic data and corporate results so far have generally been above expectation.  In the Far East, North and South Korea made faltering progress towards an agreement while China flexed its muscles in response to Trump’s trade and other demands and relaxed bank reserve requirement late in the month. Chinese economic growth slowed slightly while there was a little speculation that the Bank of Japan may tweak it’s QE programme.  The UK reported mixed economic data with satisfactory developments on the government borrowing side, inflation slightly lower than expected, but poor relative GDP figures and deteriorating property sentiment, both residential and commercial. The data and ongoing Brexit confusion appear to be keeping the MPC in a wait and see mode regarding interest rates, although mathematically the’ hawks’ are gaining ground. An important day for MPC policy statements tomorrow (2nd August).

Aggregate world hard economic data continues to show steady expansion, excluding the UK, as confirmed by the IMF and the OECD with some forecasts of 2018 economic growth in the 3.3% to 3.6% area, a little lower than January forecasts. Fluctuating currencies continued to play an important part in asset allocation decisions, the stronger US dollar again being the major recent feature recently, although lagging the yen year to date. Government Bond holders saw modest price falls over the month. Of note was the large jump in the Japanese Government Bond Yield. Oil was the main commodity feature during the month, falling after the long rally seen so far this year. Tariffs, whether actual or rumoured, are continuing to bear on certain metals and soft commodities, the latter also responding to extreme weather conditions. The price of wheat for example has climbed nearly 30% so far this year.

At the end of the seven-month period, “mixed investment” unit trusts show a very small positive price performance, with technology and most overseas equity regions showing above average performance, and bonds, Asia-excl Japan and Emerging markets in negative territory. Source Trustnet:01/08/2018


Global Equities rose over the month the FTSE ALL World Index gaining 3.43% in dollar terms and now showing a positive return since the beginning of the year. The UK broad and narrow market indices lagged other major markets over the month in local terms and have underperformed in both local and sterling adjusted values from the end of 2017.Asia and emerging markets were the relative underperformers and declined in absolute terms while Europe jumped quite strongly, although the DAX Index is still down in absolute returns since the beginning of 2018. In sterling adjusted terms, America has jumped to the top of the leader board year to date, largely helped by the technology component (NASDAQ up 10.9%) and a recently strengthening dollar. The VIX index while still up about 30% from the year end, dropped 13% over the month, as “risk on “trades returned.

UK Sectors

Sector volatility picked up during the month, influenced by both global factors e.g. commodity prices, tariffs, as well as corporate activity and ex-dividend adjustments. Utility stocks fell over 4%, while pharmaceuticals gained 5.8 %, largely on encouraging results and lingering corporate activity. Over the seven-month period, pharmaceuticals are outpacing the worse performing major sector, telecommunications by nearly 33%.

Fixed Interest

Gilt prices fell marginally over the month and are now down 1.64% year to date in capital terms, the 10-year UK yield standing at 1.39% currently.  Other ten-year yield closed the month at US 2.97% Japan, 0.06% and Germany 0.33% respectively.  UK corporate bonds remained broadly unchanged, ending July on a yield of approximately 2.75%. Amongst the more speculative grades, emerging market bonds fell while US high yield rose, in price terms. Floating rate and convertible bond prices showed mixed performance over the month. See my recommendations in preference shares, convertibles, corporate bonds, floating rate bonds etc. A list of my top thirty income ideas (all yielding over 5%) from over 10 different asset classes is available.

Foreign Exchange

Amongst the major currencies, a stronger dollar was the major monthly feature rising largely on relative economic news. Sterling fell versus the dollar while rising against the Yen and Euro. Currency adjusted, the FTSE World Equity Index is now outperforming the FTSE 100 by over 3% since the end of 2017.Just over two years since the BREXIT vote, the FTSE has risen by about 19% compared with the 32% gain in sterling adjusted world indices.


A generally weak month for commodities with the notable exception of some of the softs, the latter largely reflecting weather conditions! Over the year so far, oil seems to be stabilising over $70, while gold, falling on the month and year-to date languishes at around $1223 currently.

Looking Forward

Over the coming months, geo-political events and Central Bank actions/statements will continue be key market drivers while early second quarter company results will likely add some additional volatility. With medium term expectation of rising bond yields, equity valuations and fund flow dynamics will also be increasingly important areas of interest/concern.

US watchers will continue to speculate on the timing and number of interest rate hikes 2018/2019 and longer-term debt dynamics, as well as fleshing out the winners and losers from any tariff developments (steel, aluminium, EU, China,NAFTA)-a moving target! Additional discussions pertaining to North Korea, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and Trump’s own position could precipitate volatility in equities, commodities and currencies. In Japan market sentiment is likely to be influenced by economic policy and Abe’s political rating. It will be interesting to see if there is any follow through from recent BoJ speculation regarding bond yield policy. Recent corporate governance initiatives e.g. non-executive directors, cross holdings, dividends are helping sentiment. European investment mood will be tested by economic figures (temporary slowdown or more sustained?), EU Budget discussions, Italian, Turkish and Spanish politics, and reaction to the migrant discussions.  Hard economic data and various sentiment/residential property indicators will continue to show that UK economic growth will be slower in 2018 compared to 2017, and further down grades may appear as anecdotal second quarter figures trends are closely analysed. Brexit discussion have moved to a new level, discussions on the “custom union” being currently hotly debated. The current perception of a move to a “softer” European exit will inevitably lead to pressure from many sides.   Political tensions stay at elevated levels both within and across the major parties and considerable uncertainties still face individual companies and sectors. Industry, whether through trade organizations or directly e.g. Bae, BMW, Honda, Ryanair is becoming increasingly impatient, and vocal, and many London based financial companies are already “voting with their feet”.

On a valuation basis, most, but not all, conventional government fixed interest products continue to appear expensive against current economic forecasts and supply factors, and renewed bond price declines and further relative underperformance versus equities should be expected in the medium term, in my view. See my recent ‘iceberg’ illustration for an estimate of bond sensitivity. Price declines are eroding any small income returns leading to negative total returns in many cases.  On the supply point there are increasing estimates of US bond issuance against a background of diminished QE and overseas buying. European bond purchases are expected to wind down later this year.

Equities appear more reasonably valued, apart from some PE metrics, (especially in the US), but there are wide variations, and opportunities, in both broad asset classes. Equity investors will be looking to see if superior earnings growth can compensate for higher interest rates in several areas. Helped in no small part by tax cuts, US companies have been showing earnings growth more than 20% so far this year, although the current quarter is widely expected to be the peak comparison period, and ‘misses’ are being severely punished e.g. Facebook and Twitter.   Corporate results from US, Europe and Japan have, on aggregate, been up to expectations over the current period.

Outside pure valuation measures, sentiment indicators and the VIX index are showing significant day to day variation, after the complacency of last year. The current level of 13.23 appears rather low in the context of potential banana skins.

In terms of current recommendations,

Continue to overweight equities relative to core government bonds, especially within Continental Europe and Japan. However, an increased weighting in absolute return and other vehicles may be warranted as equity returns will become increasingly lower and more volatile and holding greater than usual cash balances may also be appropriate. Among major equity markets, the USA is one of the few areas where the ten-year bond yields more than the benchmark equity index. The equity selection should be very focussed. Certain equity valuations are rather high, especially on a PE basis (see quarterly), although not in “bubble” territory. A combination of sharper than expected interest rate increases with corporate earnings shocks would not be conducive to strong equity returns. Ongoing and fluid tariff discussions could additionally unsettle selected countries, sectors and individual stocks Harley Davidson, German car producers, American and Brazilian soy producers etc.

  • UK warrants a neutral allocation after the strong relative bounce over the quarter on the back of stronger oil price, sterling weakness and corporate activity. Ongoing Brexit debate, political stalemate and economic uncertainty could cause more sterling wobbles, which in turn could affect sector/size choices. I would expect to see more profits warnings (Countryside,Foxtons,H&M- latest casualties) and extra due diligence in stock/fund selection is strongly advised.
  • Within UK sectors, some of the higher yielding defensive plays e.g. Pharma, telco’s and utilities have attractions relative to certain cyclicals and many financials are showing confidence by dividend hikes and buy-backs etc. Oil and gas majors may be worth holding despite the outperformance to date. Remember that the larger cap names such as Royal Dutch and BP will be better placed than some of the purer exploration plays in the event of a softer oil price. Mining stocks remain a strong hold, in my view (see my recent note for favoured large cap pooled play). Corporate activity, already apparent in the engineering (GKN), property (Hammerson), pharmaceutical (Glaxo, Shire?), packaging (Smurfit), retail (Sainsbury/Asda) is likely to increase in my view, although the Government has recently been expressing concern about overseas take-overs in certain strategic areas.
  • Continental European equities continue to be preferred to those of USA, for reasons of valuation, and Central bank policy, although political developments in Italy, Spain and Turkey should be monitored closely. Improving economic data adds to my enthusiasm for selected European names, although European investors may be advised to focus more on domestic, rather than export related themes. Look at underlying exposure of your funds carefully. Remember that certain European and Japanese companies provide US exposure, without paying US prices. I have recently written on Japan, and I would continue to overweight this market, despite the large 2017 outperformance. Smaller cap/ domestic focussed funds may outperform broader index averages e.g. JP Morgan Japanese Smaller Companies and Legg Mason.
  • Alternative fixed interest vehicles, which continue to perform relatively well against conventional government bonds, have attractions e.g. floating rate funds, preference shares, convertibles, for balanced, cautious accounts and energy/ emerging/speculative grade for higher risk. These remain my favoured plays within the fixed interest space. See recent note
  • UK bank preference shares still look particularly attractive and could be considered as alternatives to the ordinary shares in some cases. If anything, recent sector “news” has highlighted the attractions of the sector.
  • Alternative income, private equity and renewable funds have exhibited their defensive characteristics during recent equity market wobbles and are still recommended as part of a balanced portfolio. Many of these are already providing superior total returns to both gilts and equities so far this year. Reference could be made to the renewable funds (see my recent solar and wind power recommendations). Results from Greencoat on February 26nd and Bluefield Solar the following day reinforce my optimism for the sector. Selected infrastructure funds are also recommended for purchase after the recent Corbyn/Carillion inspired weakness (see note). The take-over of JLIF during the month highlights the value in the sector!
  • Any new commitments to the commercial property sector should be more focussed on direct equities and investment trusts than unit trusts (see my recent note comparing open ended and closed ended funds), thus exploiting the discount and double discount features respectively as well as having liquidity and trading advantages. However, in general I would not overweight the sector, as along with residential property, I expect further price stagnation especially in London offices and retail developments e.g(Hammerson,Intu). The outlook for some specialist sub sectors and property outside London/South-East, however, is currently more favourable. Investors should also consider some continental European property See my recent company note.
  • I suggest a selective approach to emerging equities and would currently avoid bonds. Although the overall valuation for emerging market equities is relatively modest, there are large differences between individual countries. A mixture of high growth/high valuation e.g. India, Vietnam and value e.g. Russia could yield rewards and there are signs of funds moving back to South Africa on political change. Turkish assets seem likely to remain highly volatile in the short term. As highlighted in the quarterly, Chinese index weightings are expected to increase quite significantly over coming years and Saudi Arabia, is just being allowed into certain indices.

Full third quarter report is available to clients/subscribers and suggested portfolio strategy/individual recommendations are available. Ideas for a ten stock FTSE portfolio, model pooled fund portfolios (cautious, balanced adventurous, income), 30 stock income lists, hedging ideas and a list of shorter term low risk/ high risk ideas can also be purchased, as well as bespoke portfolio construction/restructuring.

Good luck with performance!   Ken Baksh 01/08/2018

Independent Investment Research

Ken has over 35 years of investment management experience, working for two major City institutions between 1976 and 2002.

Since then he has been engaged as a self-employed investment consultant. He has worked with investment trusts, unit trusts, pension funds, charities, Life Fund,hedge fund and private clients. Individual asset managed have included direct equities and bonds pooled vehicles currencies, derivatives and commodities.

Projects undertaken in a number of areas including asset allocation, risk control, performance measurement, marketing, individual company research, legacy portfolios and portfolio construction. He has a BSc(Mathematics/Statistics) and is a Fellow Member of the UK Society of Investment Professionals.

Phone 07747 114 691




All stock recommendations and comments are the opinion of writer.

Investors should be cautious about all stock recommendations and should consider the source of any advice on stock selection. Various factors, including personal ownership, may influence or factor into a stock analysis or opinion.

All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into individual stocks before making a purchase decision. In addition, investors are advised that past stock performance is not indicative of future price action.

You should be aware of the risks involved in stock investing, and you use the material contained herein at your own risk

The author may have historic or prospective positions in securities mentioned in the report.

The material on this website are provided for information purpose only.

Please contact Ken, (kenbaksh@btopenworld.com) for further information

Alan Green Brand CEO talks about: Cadence #KDNC Prairie Mining #PDZ Countryside Properties #CSP & Ferrum Crescent #FCR with Justin Waite on the Vox Markets podcast

Alan Green CEO of Brand Communications talks about: Cadence #KDNC Prairie Mining #PDZ Countryside Properties #CSP & Ferrum Crescent #FCR

(Interview starts at 27 minutes 48 seconds)

Buy Countryside Properties #CSP says VectorVest – This well managed company offers a compelling investment case for any portfolio…

Countryside Properties (CSP.L) is a leading UK homebuilder and regeneration partner specialising in place making and urban regeneration. The business is centred around two complementary divisions, Partnerships and Housebuilding. Partnerships specialises in urban regeneration of public sector land, delivering private and affordable homes by partnering with local authorities and housing associations. The Housebuilding division, operating under Countryside and Millgate brands, develops sites that provide private and affordable housing, on land owned or controlled by the Group. CSP was founded in 1958. It operates in locations across outer London, the South East, the North West of England and the Midlands.

On May 17th 2018, CSP published half-year results to March 31st 2018. The company reported a strong first half, with in line trading and good momentum into H2. Adjusted operating profits rose 22% to £46.8m, with completions 19% higher at 1172 homes. A strong net cash position enabled the group to acquire Westleigh Homes from existing cash resources post period end. Current trading is reported as ‘robust’, with visitor levels, cancellations and net reservation rates all in line with expectations and the prior year. CEO Ian Sutcliffe added: “…with continued strong growth in Partnerships and improved efficiency and returns in the Housebuilding division we remain confident of maintaining our sector leading growth over the medium-term.” 

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A perennial favourite of VectorVest despite a retracement in the share price in late 2017. The recent upward move in the GRT (Earnings Growth Rate) metric flagged up on the VectorVest stock analysis and portfolio management platform in March 2018 and is also clearly indicated on the chart below. The forecast growth in earnings continues all the way through to today’s GRT rating of 25%, which VectorVest considers to be excellent. Although the RS (Relative Safety) metric only registers a fair rating of 1.00 (scale of 0.00 to 2.00), trading at 374p the stock is still way below the current VectorVest valuation of 539p per share.


A weekly chart of CSP.L is shown above in my normal format. The share is breaking upwards through a 52-week high and is on a buy recommendation on VectorVest. The technical target should be a repeat of the directional move made in March to July of 2017. This would result in a technical target similar to the current VectorVest valuation.

Summary: It is generally accepted that well managed UK property investments are ‘safe as houses’. I have spoken of the virtues of CSP on many occasions, and while the ‘fair’ RS rating may see conservative sector investors look elsewhere, in the view of VectorVest the substantial valuation upside on offer and excellent GRT rating adds up to a compelling investment case for any portfolio. Buy.

Dr David Paul

May 15th 2018

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European Financial Publishing Limited T/A VectorVest UK (VectorVest) is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under register number 543038. You should remember that the value of investments and the income derived therefrom may fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount that you invest. Past performance is not a reliable guide to the future. This material is directed only at persons in the UK and is not an offer or invitation to buy or sell securities. If investors are in any doubt of the suitability of an investment given their individual circumstances, they are recommended to contact an investment manager or independent financial adviser who may be able to provide tailored advice. Opinions expressed whether in general or both on the performance of individual securities and in a wider economic context represent the views of VectorVest at the time of preparation. They are subject to change and should not be interpreted as investment advice. VectorVest and connected companies, clients, directors, employees and other associates, may have a position in any security, or related financial instrument, issued by a company or organisation mentioned on this site. European Financial Publishing Limited is a company incorporated in Scotland under Company Number SC357322 with its registered address at Exchange Tower, 19 Canning Street, Edinburgh EH3 8EH. Email: support@VectorVest.com

Ian Pollard: Countryside Properties, Robust & Excellent

Countryside Properties CSP The half year to the 31st March saw excellent progress and robust trading in all regions.  After strong growth the interim dividend is to be increased by 24% with reported revenue rising by 14%, operating profit by 19% and basic earnings per share by 23%.

National Grid plc NG produced a strong operational and financial performance for the year to the 31st March  On a  statutory basis profit before tax rose by 24% and earnings per share by 116%. On an underlying basis the figures were 4% and 3% respectively. Medium term growth is expected to beat  the top end of the 5-7% range.

Royal Mail plc  RMG With parcel volume the best in four years and a resilient letter performance, the year to the 25th May was another successful one for Royal Mail, despite a challenging environment.,  Revenue rose by 2% and profit before tax edged up from £559m. to £565m. whilst basic earnings per share rose from 41.1p to 45.5p. The dividend for the full year is to be increased by 4%.

Experian EXPN put in a strong finish to the year with fourth quarter total revenue growth of 12% or on a like for like basis, 8%. The strong performance came despite profit before tax falling by 7% which is deftly transformed to a rise of 7% at actual benchmark rates, enough to justify a 10% rise in the second interim dividend.

Thomas Cook Group TCG  The half year to the 31st March saw like for like revenue rise by 5% and following a strong airline performance coupled with a reduction in net finance charges the seasonal winter loss before tax was improved by 16m. Summer demand is strong with bookings up by 13%.

Churchill China CHH is making good progress in the current year, with trading since March ahead of last year. Further progress is being made in both export markets and in the UK.

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Ian Pollard – Countryside Properties #CSP – building cost inflation moderates in London

Countryside Properties plc CSP enjoyed robust trading during the firt half year to the 31st March., in addition  to which there was growth from acquisitions. Total pricate completions rose by 15% with the total average selling price falling by 11% to £392,000. Housebulding completions rose by 7% with the average selling price remaining flat. The company claims that private forward bookings were strong with a fall from £347m. to £327m. Current trading is described as robust and building cost inflation has moderated particularly in London and the south east.

Bunzl plc BNZL Since the 31st December revenue at constant exchange rates has risen by 14%, with underlying growth of 6% and an impact of 8% from acquisitions. Underlying growth is expected to return to more normal levels for the reminder of the year. In March two further acquisitions have been completed, one in the US which produced revenue of $50m in 2017 and the second in the Netherlands which produced 6m. Euro in 2017.

Mediclinic Intnl plc MDC Results for th year to the 31st Mach are expected to be marginally ahead of expectations following a significant second half improvement from the Middle East division, which is now entering an expansionary phase. This is expected to produce a srong increase in revenue and margins over time. In Southern Africa revenue growth of 5% is anticipated which is ahead of expectations.

Moneysupermarket.com Group MONY produced total revenue growth of 4% for the quarter to the end of March, in line with expectations and led by Home Services with a rise of 15%. The group anticipates meeting current market expectations for the full year.

AnimalCare Group plc ANCR Revenues to the 31st December will be slightly ahead of management expectations whilst sales growth during the current financial year is expected to be stronger, with underlying EBITDA, net earnings and earnings per share all expected to maintain at least double digit growth

Segro plc SGRO made a strong start to 2018 with a record level of new headline rent delivered for the quarter from the 1st January to the 17th April. Last year the first quarter figure was £16.3m.. This year the figure shot up to £27m.

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Ian Pollard – Diageo Management Full Of Praise For Itself

Image result for diageoDiageo DGE produced a strong performance in the 6 months to the 31st December. All regions contributed to organic net sales growth of 4.2% although organic volume growth was considerably lower at 1.8%.This was all due to constant and rigorous execution of strategy by management – nothing like self praise when things are claimed to be going well, although a fall of 2% in reported growth is hardly consistent and is not thought worthy of particular mention. Basic earnings per share rose by 36.3% and the interim dividend is to be increased by 5% to 24.9p. As for 2018, that is expected to bring in mid single digit top line growth.

SImage result for sky logoKY plc SKY The half year to the 31st December produced a strong set of results. Indeed  the blurb for the half year outcome is almost such a parrot like repetition of that for Diageo that it takes some convincing that they were not both written by the same script writer. In the case of Diageo the excellent performance  was down to “consistent execution of strategy” by management. Now where did I read that before. Like for like revenue rose by 5% and earnings per share by 11%. On a statutory basis operating profit was up by 24% and earnings per share by 39%. 365,000 new customers were signed up and pay as you go buys rose by 8%. .All this was achieved despite a challenging consumer environment. The interim dividend is to be increased by 4% to 13.06 p per share, on top of the previously announced special dividend of 10p per share.Plans for 2018 and beyond are said to be ambitious.

PImage result for paypoint logoaypoint PAY  claims to have “driven” profitable growth in the UK and in Romania where net revenue rose by 42% most of which was accounted for by the acquisition of Payzone. Where exactly it drove this profitable growth to, is difficult to understand as it included a fall of 4.3% in Group retail Networks, a volume fall of 10.5% in UK bill and generals and a net revenue fall of 6.3% in UK retail services.Nonetheless it did have a good day on the 22nd December, its best trading day of the year where processed transactions rose by 67% on the previous year.

Image result for countryside properties logoCountryside Props CSP made a strong start to its year with first quarter completions up by 47% helped by a record year end order book and believe it or not, a fall of 11% in its private average selling price. Perhaps somewhere there is a link between those two sets of figures, which no doubt will be studiously avoided by the rest of the British housebuilding industry

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Ian Pollard – Countryside Properties -A Lesson in Clarity and Profitability

United Utilities UU must have decided to make its half year report as obscure and meaningless as possible. Thus it is full of PR19S, ODIs, RCV Gearing and the latest craze, System Thinking. What it wont do because presumably it would make the figures for the 6 months to the end of September too easy to understand, is tell you the percentages by which mundane things like revenue and profit in all its various guises have risen. That is a fairly easy task for even the most junior office boy in most head offices – but perhaps I should not run the risk of being regarded  as sexist when of course I should have said “junior person”. So you can have your profits four ways – underlying, reported, underlying after tax and  reported after tax   but what you are definately not allowed to see are the figures on a statutory basis. The figure all show reasonable increases and the interim dividend is going up from 12.95p to13.24p per share. What that rise means in percentage terms is however a closely gaurded secret, known only to that junior person at head office who is the only member of senior management with the System Thinking skills able to work it out.

Thomas Cook Group TCG has woken up to the fact that it is a “good thing” to claim to have a customer focused strategy. Not before time, some may say, after the traumas of recent years. How serious they are about it remain to be seen but having discovered that it can lead to profitable growth,  there may be a fair chance that they will give it a go.

Their table of figures is not all that easy to understand but I think I have got it after the third reading. Profit after tax for the year to the 30th Spetember has risen from 1 to 12 which is clearly shown as a difference of  11 which in the last colomn becomes a like for like rise of 7 on a constant currency basis. If you would like to know what the 7 means you are invited to proceed to page 12 – clearly this must be part of the new customer focused strategy. Underlying earnings per share is understandable with a rise from 8.1p to 9.3p and there is an explanation that like for like group revenue on a constant currency basis has risen by 9%. The recommended dividend is  0.6p per share but we are not enlightened as to whether that is a rise or a fall on last year. Perhaps I should go back to page 12 to find out. And before I forget, cutting complexity is one way in which they intend to produce further growth. Some chance.

Countryside Properties CSP shows how it should be done. Simple. On an adjusted basis earnings per share rose by 71% in the year to the end of September, revenue was up by 32%, completion by 28% and operating profit by 34%. It was an excellent and record year and perhaps one of the most significant statistics (which will be very unwelcome to the competition) is that they reduced the average selling price by 8% which most housebuilders would regard as a criminal offence.

Finsbury Foods FIF announces that the UK retail food market hass moved from a deflatioary to an inflationary environment and thus helped to take the load off managements shoulders which is now finding it easier to run a bakery profitably. UK sales have risen by 5% whilst European sales are down by 3% despite all those fancy baguettes, brioches and black unsliced.

Beachfront villas & houses for sale in Greece    http://www.hiddengreece.net

Dr David Paul of VectorVest discusses Victoria (VCP), Coats Group (COA), Countryside Props (CSP), Taptica (TAP & Berkeley Grp (BKG) on Core Finance TV.

Hidden Gems! Dr David Paul of VectorVest discusses Victoria (VCP), Coats Group (COA), Countryside Props (CSP), Taptica (TAP & Berkeley Grp (BKG) with Matt Brown on Core Finance TV.

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