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Ian Pollard – Intertek #ITRK Dividend Rises 39%

Intertek Group ITRK is going from strength to strength, with consistent progress on strategy and performance leading to a 39.1% increase in the full year dividend. In 1918 revenue grew by 3.7% on a like for like basis at constant currency rates,. profit before tax was up  by 8.3% and diluted earnings per share by 7.7%. Good organic revenue growth at constant currency is expected  in 2019.

Ashtead Group AHT delivered a strong quarter in the 3 months to the 31st January. Underlying profit before tax and earnings per share rose by 18% and 34% respectively. whilst revenue was up by 19%.  As a result, for the nine months to date  revenue and underlying pre tax profit both increased by 18% at constant exchange rates.

Direct Line Insurance DLG delivered a strong set of results for the year to the 31st December driven by what it describes as its resilient business model which it claims, performed well in a highly competitive market. A final dividend of 14.0p, is announced, an increase of 2.9% on last year plus a special dividend of 8.3p.

Ibstock Brick plc IBST claims that the year to the 31st December was a busy year of development with profit before tax rising by 19.1% on revenue up by 7.9%. Statutory earnings per share rose by 17.5% but the final dividend remains unchanged at 6.5p making the 2018 full year dividend 9.5 pence per share compared to 9.1 pence per share for 2017.  Market fundamentals remain encouraging for the medium term, says the CEO

Netcall plc NET has seen strong sales momentum continue into the second half with order inflow significantly ahead of the same period last year.  Profit before tax for the six months to the 31st December leapt by 49% on revenue up by 6%. Revenues for the full year are expected  to be more weighted toward the second half, as Cloud services growth accelerates.

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Ian Pollard – Direct Line #DLG delivers a robust fall in premiums

Direct Line Ins. Group DLG claims to have delivered a robust third quarter performance in a competitive market. Robust in this particular case being defined as a fall of 5.6% in gross written premiums, compared to the same quarter in 2017, Perhaps this is a definition which not many outside the company could bring themselves to agree with.

Wm. Morrison Supermarkets MRW The third quarter to the 4th November saw another period of strong growth, with group like for like sales, excluding petrol, rising by 5.6%. Apart from the second quarter this was well above the growth rate for any quarter since the beginning of 2017.  Including petrol the rise was 6%. Retail like for like sales for the quarter weakened slightly without the impact of favourable weather and the World Cup in the second quarter.

Imperial Brands IMB  Claims strong financial delivery for the year to the 30th September, with revenue and earnings growth and high cash generation. . On a reported basis revenue rose by 0.9% and operating profit by 5.7%. Earnings per share fell by 2.7% but the dividend benefited from a further increase of 10%. The company grits its teeth and claims to be pleased with the progress it is making in creating something better for the world’s smokers despite that meaning a fall of 3.6% in total tobacco volume.

DS Smith plc SMDS updates that it expects return on sales and adjusted operating profit in the half-year to 31st October will be materially ahead of the comparable period. This follows recovery of increased input costs earlier in the year and good volume growth..Good ongoing volume and market share growth is expected for the remainder of the year and the company is quite excited about the prospects for Europac which it is in the process of acquiring and which will lead to further expansion in its Iberian market.

William Hill plc WMH is looking to the US becoming its jewel in what would otherwise begin to look like a somewhat tarnished crown. In the year to date online net revenue rose by 4%, whilst retail net revenue fell by 4%. In the US however existing business revenue surged ahead  by 29% following a Supreme Court decision in May. The company has now built on its market leading position in Nevada, to make rapid progress in other states as they legalise sports betting. It has already become the only company to be taking sports bets in the first five states to have regulated sports betting Its goal is to be in every state.

Purplebricks Group plc PURP has continued to make good progress in the six months ended 31 October 2018 with year-on-year revenue growth of approximately 20%. It has continued to win market share against a challenging market backdrop in the UK., whilst in Canada where it only opened on the 18th July the  business is performing strongly and in line with the company’s high expectations.

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Ian Pollard – Next #NXT online sales save the day

Next pc NXT Full price sales in the second quarter were up 2.8% on last year and ahead of the 1% expected at the time of the May update. Next believes believe that this over-achievement  was due to the prolonged period of exceptionally warm weather, which greatly assisted  sales of summer weight products.Expectations for the remainder of the current year to January 2019 are that full price sales will rise by 2.2%, earnings per share will grow by 3.7% and group profit before tax will be down by 1.3%. Full price sales for the 26 weeks to the 28th July were up by 4.5% compared to last year but therein lies the pending nightmare facing most of the major retail clothing retailers. Sales in retail stores declined by 5.3% whereas online sales rose by 15.5%, providing further proof,if proof were needed, that the high street is dying on its feet.

BAE Systems plc BA. claims to have made good progress in the half year to the 30th June and laid a strong foundation to deliver future growth. The interim dividend is being inceased by 2%.  Despite the optimism, on a constant currency basis, sales fell 3% to 8.8bn. as a result of reduced Typhoon production, underlying EBITA was down 6% but underlying earnings per share rose by 2%. As defined in IFRS and on a constant currency basis revenue fell by 5%, operating profit was down by 11% and basic earnings per share by 17%

Direct Line Ins Group DLG with half year falls of 15.75% in operating profit and 13.9% in profit before tax, has decided that attack is the best form of defence and is increasing its interim dividend by 2.9%. It is also brave enough to put on its rose tinted glasses and describe these as a good set of results. Perhaps it is purely coincidence that the CEO has chosen this as a good time to depart after 10 years in office.

Hargreaves Services plc HSP  After seeing like for like basic earnings per share fall from 17.8p to 3.8p and last years operating profit of 1.4m. tuned into a loss of 1.4m for the current year, the group describes its preliminary results as being “satisfactory”. With profit before tax falling from 4.7m to this years 500,000 it even tries to get its shareholders to accept that it is delivering against its strategic objectives. Hands up those who have doubts.

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Ian Pollard – Persimmon To Distribute Largesse To The Shareholders

Persimmon PSN describes its 2017 performance as excellent and its continued outperformance as enabling  an  increase in capital return payments of 125p. per share to be made in each of the next three years, to be paid as an interim dividend  in late March / early April of each year, commencing on the 29th March 2018. The scheduled capital return of 110p per share will be paid on the 2nd July as a final dividend for 2017. 2017 was another year of disciplined high quality growth with revenue up by 9%, underlying profit before tax by 25% and earnings per share by 26%. The average selling price rose by 3.2%.

GKN plc GKN claims to be excited about plans for its” fantastic businesses” which include the separation of Aerospace and Driveline into two separate companies in 2019. As for 2017 organic sales rose by 6% and exceeded £10 billion for the first time. Profit before tax on a statutory basis rose by 125% and the final dividend is to be increased by 5%.

Direct Line Insurance Group DLG. 2017 was the fifth consecutive year in which DLG delivered a strong financial performance,and shareholders are getting their just rewards with whopping dividend increases.Profit before tax for the year to the 31st December surged by 52.7% and the final dividend is to be increased by 40.2% to 13.6p on top of the jump in the interim dividend of 38.8%. A special dividend of 15p per share is also to be paid which is an increase of 50% over last years payment.

Johnson Service Group plc JSG Following the disposal of the dry cleaning division in January 2017  Johnson transformed itself into a textile services business and with the help of acquisitions made during the year, delivered a strong financial performance, with revenue rising by 13.3%. Adjusted profit before tax for the year to the 31st December  rose by 17.5% and diluted earnings per share by 14.5%. The final dividend is to be increased by 12% to 2.8p per share.

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ABF – Sugar And Primark Lead The Success

Associated British Foods ABF reports another highly successful year with a rise of 51% in profit before tax and 47% in earnings per share, including profits resulting from the sale of businesses. Without that bonus  and after growth of 6% in revenue for the year to the 16th September, the adjusted rises in profit before tax and earnings per share still came in at a very respectable 22% and 20% respectively. Sugar profits recovered strongly over the year and Primark still has potential for growth, having opened a net 30 stores and 1.5m sq. ft. of selling space across nine countries. The final dividend has been increased to 29.65p. per share making a total increase for the year of 12%.

Direct Line Ins.Grp. DLG has seen the good momentum in the first half continue into quarter 3 with Motor, Commercial and Rescue businesses all trading well. Motor premiums rose by 7.1% and own brand policies were up by 5.5%. Total premiums, despite a fall of 3.9% in Home, increased by 2.8% led by own brands which were up by 8.3%. Claims experience in Home has seen an improvement in the high inflation rate previously affecting escape of water claims (presumably that means flooding to you and me).

Imperial Brands plc IMB Preliminary results for the year to 30th September saw tobacco volume falling further by 4.1% and net revenue down by 2.4%, despite which the company claims it was an important year of progress with dividends per share rising by 10%. Total adjusted operating profit and earnings per share declined by 3.2% and 2.2% respectively but on a reported basis, revenue was up by 9.5% and operating profit by 2.2%. Gains in market share have been achieved in what the company regards, as its priority markets.

Hiscox Ltd. HSX Gross written premiums for the 9 month to the 30th September grew by 12.4% in sterling or 4.9% at constant currency rates. Claims for major hurricane catastrophes will now be less than originally feared when it was expected that claims for Harvey & Irma alone would come to US$225m. whereas current estimates are that the same figure will now also cover claims for hurricane Maria as well.

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