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Ian Pollard: Dixons Abandons Smartphone Sales in Greek Stores

Dixons Carphone plc DC Greece had become the jewel in Dixons international empire with like for like sales up 9% but it looks like that will not last for long unless Dixons management can start getting its act together. Smart phones is its problem. At one of its biggest Kotsovoulos stores in Athens it has had to stop selling smart phones because it has no staff trained and qualified to explain to customers what the terms of the  contracts are which it offers with the three main service providers to enable it to give huge discounts on the prices of smart phones. Each model of smart phone has a price label next to it showing the discount and the specific contract which it offers with each provider. The problem is permanent, not temporary and it is that no staff member is allowed to tell customers what the terms of those contracts are because they are untrained and unqualified. Worse still they are trained to lie about the reason.Thus customers are told that a qualified employee from another store will be there from  5pm but it is just a lie. Other more truthful members of staff they will have to go to a store several miles away to find an employee with the necessary qualifications. They even advise customers to go directly to branches of the providers in a distant shopping mall, thus ensuring that Dixons loses the sale permanently. The manager joins in the deceit by claiming that the price labels do not advertise the package offered, they are purely notifications. Often it is the tiny things which expose the failings of management which is not on the ball, in some of our largest companies.

Thomas Cook Group TCG has been forced to admit that it can not compete with UK holidays when the UK enjoys hot summers, as it did this year in June and July. And if one thinks about it, that is not surprising because who wants to go through the trauma of spending part of their annual holiday trapped in a UK airport full of undrinkable coffee and British rail sandwiches, plus overbearing security officers waiting to pounce and perform an intimate body search at the slightest opportunity. What Cooks describes as the “unprecented” hot weather, led to higher levels of discounting and the recent trading performance has been disappointing, with full year operating profit expected to be only 280m. But then Cooks gives the game away by admitting that even bookings for next winter are down by 2% so the problems appear to be more ingrained than just a few weeks of summer sunshine. Dread the thought but could management perhaps be at fault if hot summer weather is followed by winter booking problems.

Ian Pollard: Melrose #MRO Delighted With GKN

Melrose Industries MRO is delighted with its acquisition of GKN, and the significant potential for improvement identified when it made its offer.  Plans are now being implemented to realise the full potential of GKN’s world leading, but currently underdeveloped, businesses. The interim dividend for the six months to the 30th June is being raised by 11% in anticipation. The half year figures are affect by the takeover in that all the acquisition costs are included but only 73 days of trading from GKN.

Go Ahead Group GOG results for the year to the end of June were head of expectations and a robust performance is expected for 2018/19. Despite the self praise revenue fell by 0.6% and basic earnings per share by 0.2%. Although profit before tax rose by 6.5% it was decided that it was prudent not to increase the final dividend which is maintained at last years level. Bus operations performed resiliently with profits slightly up on last year despite a challenging market environment but rail profits fell by 25%, partly due to the expiry of the London Midland franchise.

Bovis Homes Group BVS performed ahead of expectations in the half year to the 30th June with profit before tax increasing by 41% and earnings per share by 40%. Unlike many in the industry it did behave as if it had a certain amount of social conscience. and and managed to keep its average selling price absolutely flat. Although total completions rose by 4%, group revenue rose by only 1% but the shareholders got the rewards which those who invest in the house building industry have come to expect and the interim dividend is increased by 27%. For the year as a whole the target is for record profits which will be at the top end of the boards expectations.

Dixons Carphone plc DC Like for like revenue was flat in electricals and down 1% in Mobile in the 13 weeks to the 28th July. The Nordics were similarly flat, leaving Greece leading the way with a 9% rise in like for like revenue, which is truly amazing having regard to the obstacle course which customers have to negotiate as they queue to try and pay for what they would like to buy.

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Ian Pollard – Dixons fixable, but Greece thrashes UK & Ireland

Dixon Carphone DC has plenty to fix but it is all fixable, claims the new CEO. The first thing which seems to need attention is next years profit which is expected to slump from this years expected £382m to £300m.The dividend for the current year is being maintained at 11.25p per share. Growth in the UK & Ireland has seriously lagged behind the rest of the Dixons empire with like for like full year growth at 2%, falling to 1% for the fourth quarter. The Nordics and Greece tell a different story with full year like for like revenue up by 9% and 11% respectively, whilst quarter four produced rises of 8% and 10%. Must be many years since Greece thrashed the UK in a major retail market.

Smiths Group Medical SMIN has announced that it is in the very early stages of discussions about the combination of its medical division with ICU Medical Inc.Smith claims it routinely reviews all its options.

Redstone Connect plc REDS The year to the thirty first January saw strong revenue growth of 15%, EBITDA rising by 60% and adjusted profit before tax increasing from £1.3m to £2.4m. Since the year end the sale of the Systems Integration & Managed Services Division for a total consideration of £23m will allow the group to focus on delivering and growing its software division.

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Ian Pollard – Dixons Carphone will keep twitching its antenna

Dixons Carphone plc DC claims that its international businesses had a “terrific” Xmas but as is so often the sad story of late, the UK lagged far behind. In the 10 weeks to the 6th January, the star of the show was Greece with a like for like sales rise of 23%, followed by the Nordics with 11%. The UK and Ireland came last with a 3% rise compared to 6% for the company as  whole. Looking forward management asserts that it is keeping its antenna twitching.

Computacenter CCC describes 2017 as a year of great progress and it is now anticipated that adjusted pre tax results will be ahead of the Boards expectations, which have already been upgraded on a number of occasions during the year.Group revenue rose by 12% on a constant currency basis  but the UK produced the best quarter 4 growth seen for a number of years, with a rise of 16% just ahead of the Germans with 15% and France with 13%.

Aveva AVV is ahead of revenue expectations for the time of the year, having put in a strong performance for the nine months to the 31st December. Improving growth trends seen in the first half of the year have continued into the third quarter with Asia putting in a particularly strong performance and similar improvements have through into January.

AnimalCare Group ANCR Revenue for the year to 31st December was slightly ahead of expectations with a revenue rise of 9.5%, 10.9% on a like for like basis. The integration with Ecuphar which was acquired in July is going well.

Strix Group KETL maintained its clear market leading position during 2017 with a global volume share of some 39%. Results for the year to 31st December are expected to be in line but particularly strong cash flow should produce a significantly improved net debt performance.

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Dixons Challenged in UK Mobile Market

Dixons Carphone plc DC  has been facing challenging conditions in the UK mobile phone market as owners hold onto their existing mobiles for longer, partly due to price rises reflecting the weakness of sterling. It may also have something to do with people waking up to the fact that they do not need to change their mobile every time the model is brought out in a new colour. Apart from that the group produced a good performance in electricals for the 13 weeks to the 29th July, with group like for like revenue rising by 6%, even in Greece – perhaps a sign that at long last that country may be beginning to emerge from the years of austerity. Overall core profit for the year is expected to be in line with last year.

John Laing Group JLG concentrates on NAV in its interim results for the 6 months to the 30th June preferring that rather than more interesting  basics such as profit before tax which slumped from from last years £108.3m to this years £36.6m. or even earnings per share which similarly dropped from 29.1 to 10.2p per share. The interim dividend is increased from 1.85p to 1.91p per share.

Hunting plc HTG Despite a 64% rise in revenue in the half year to the 30th June, the company still remains loss making, although the retiring CEO claims that positive EBITDA of $12.1m. indicates that profitability has returned in some of the company’s businesses, especially when one compares it with 2016’s EBITDA loss of $29.5m. The underlying operating loss hows a healthy reduction from $50.8m to to $9.1m. The out look for the full year however, still remains dependent on the price of oil.

CRH plc CRH claims a satisfactory start to 2017 with key European markets stabilising and growth in the Americas. First half profit before tax rose by 27% and basic earnings per share by 29% although sales revenue only grew by 2%. The interim dividend is to be increased by 2.1% and the present momentum is expected to continue for the remainder of the year.

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Dixons Carphone Pulls Out of Spain

Dixons Carphone plc DC. has agreed to dispose of its entire holding in The Phone House Spain for 55m Euro less adjustments. Not a single reason, good bad or indifferent, is given for the withdrawal.


Hays plc HAS produced a record net fee performance for the quarter to 30th June, its 17th consecutive quarter of net growth. Like for like net fees for the quarter grew by 7%, with the UK, as appears to be happening more and more frequently, coming last with 5%, less than half of the growth in the rest of the world, led, as can also be expected, by Germany with a rise of 16%. Indeed the UK’s performance with a fall in net fees of 5% (not like for like) was even worse. Operating profits for the full year are expected to be marginally ahead of current market expectations.

Workspace Group plc WKP claims a strong start to the new financial year with robust customer demand. The fact that monthly enquiries are very slightly down on full year 2016-17 and average monthly lettings are down by about 4% from 99 to 95 per month, does not receive a comment.

Ramsdens Holdings RFX has traded strongly during the early part of the current financial year and this has continued into its all important summer period. It has had to report to its regulators that there has been unauthorised access to its IT systems but it expects that any disruption will be minimal.

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Retailers On The Rebound

Marks & Spencer MKS what a pleasure it is to see a shopkeeper back in charge of Marks and not just any old shopkeeper but one who knows the business inside out, one who has started turning it round in a very short time and who sounds confident and is confident that he can do the job.

The first sign of his success is continuing strong growth in food plus the realisation that sales performance in Home and Clothing has been unsatisfactory and the determination to rectify it. Profit before tax for the 53 weeks to the 2nd April is down 18.5% and basic earnings per share by 16.2% but a final dividend of 11.9% makes an increase for the full year of 3.9%. Confidence in the future means that a special dividend of 4.6p for the first half of the current year will be payable in July. Central to Steve Rowe’s recovery plans is that Marks will put customers back at the heart of the business which is bad news for the Greek stores who may now be forced to start offering customer service occasionally.

Dixons Carphone DC has enjoyed a  strong fourth quarter to finish off a very strong year.  Like for Like revenue rose by 5% both for the quarter and for the year, with market share gains in the UK & Ireland, the Nordics and Greece.  The UK and Ireland had an excellent year with like for like revenue up by 6%. Profit before tax is expected to have risen by 17% over last year.

Babcock BAB is raising its dividend for the year to 31st March by 9% after  rises of 5% in profit before tax, 4% in revenue and 8% in basic earnings per share. It claims that it is well positioned  for future growth and that the order book and bidding pipeline are impressive. 78% of revenue for the current year is already in place and 53% for 2017/18



Petra Diamonds PDL  Christies Magnificent Jewels auction on the 9th June,  will include the largest Fancy Intense Blue Diamond ever to be auctioned. Petra expects the 24.18 carat stone to fetch between $23 -$29 million. Petra’s share price now standing at 119p has more than doubled since November.

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TipTV Soapbox, with Nick ‘Moose’ Batsford, Zak Mir & Alan Green

TipTV Soapbox, with Nick ‘Moose’ Batsford, Zak Mir & Alan Green. Stocks discussed include Vodafone (VOD), Kingfisher (KGF), TalkTalk (TALK), Dixons Carphone (DC.) & Crest Nicholson (CRST).

Big Boys Have a Good Christmas

Dixons Car Phone DC now expects pre tax profits to be slightly ahead of consensus after a strong Xmas and a record Black Friday.  For the 10 weeks to 9th January group like for like revenue rose 5% with southern Europe leading the way for once with a rise of 9% and market share being increased in all territories.

EasyJet EZJ claims to be benefiting from lower fares as the number of passengers carried in the first quarter rose by 8.1% after a capacity rise of 7.3%.  Load factor was up by 0.6% to 90.3%. Travel in November and December was affected by the tragedies in Paris and Egypt and  revenue per seat fell by 3.7% but costs per seat fell by the same amount, helped by falling oil prices, which were partly offset by currency movements.

Crest Nicholson CRST describes its results as “outstanding” as it continues to benefit from the housing boom. The final dividend is to be raised by 38% to 19.7p, after a 32% rise in pre tax profits. Sales revenue rose by 26% on volume up by a comparatively meagre 8%, as the company continued to impose inflation beating price rises. Earnings per share were up by 25%.

Carpetright CPR  enjoyed its 9th consecutive quarter of like for like sales growth with a rise of 2.4% over the 12 weeks to 23rd January. Sales in the last 4 weeks of the quarter were particularly strong with a like for like rise of 6% Total sales for the quarter however were down by 1.3%.

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