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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 – GKN winning sales at expense of margins prior to takeover

Melrose Industries MRO & GKN. Melrose has published a trading update for GKN for the 13 weeks from 1st January to the 31st March and based on GKN’s own management accounts  produced prior to the takeover on the 19th April. GKN’s performance showed trends which were below market expectations. Melrose has made allowance for further under performance and claims that GKN, with sales up 5% and operating profit down 10%,  was achieving sales growth at the expense of operating margins. GKN’s net debt during the period rose from £889m. to £1124m. Despite this Melrose is confident that its net debt at the 2018 year end will be consistent with previous guidance.

London Stock Exchange Group plc LSE produced a strong performance in the quarter to the 31st March. Total income increased by 13% both year on year and on an organic and constant currency basis. All of the businesses performed well and the Group says it is well placed to develop its many growth opportunities.

Focusrite plc TUNE has thoroughly enjoyed its first six months and is celebrating by increasing its interim dividend for the half year to the 28th February by 33% to 1p per share. Group revenue rose by 21.2%, EBITDA by 33%, profit before tax by 26.8% and basic earnings per share by 23.3%. All major regions benefited from revenue growth and Xmas trading was particularly strong.

AB Dynamics ABDP has made an excellent start to the current financial year with  revenue growing by 39% in the 6 months to 28th February, profit before tax up by 34% and basic earnings per share by 86%. The interim dividend is to be increased by 10% to 1.465p per share. Demand for driving robots hit an all time high and the forward order book is described as good  both for the reminder of this financial year and going through into 2019

Osirium Technologies OSI total revenue for the year the 31st December rose by 63% and bookings by 123% but the loss for the year also rose – from £1,822,497m. to £2,296,814m.The company claims that it is continuing to build both momentum and value

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Ian Pollard – “Good Progress” at Kingfisher #KGF as profits & earnings dive

Kingfisher KGF claims to have delivered key strategic milestones for the second year in a row as  statutory profit before tax fall by 10.1% and basic earnings per share by 18.5%. Definately a milestone of some sort there. Even the CEO joins in claiming this is all good progress.On a reported and adjusted basis earnings per share fell by 10.7% and like for like sales on a constant currency basis were down by 0.7%. Dividends for the full year are to be increased by 4%. The company claims that it is aware of the challenges ahead and is ready for another big year of implementations in 2018-19. The shareholders will perhaps be hoping that the Board learns that falls are a bad thing and in many companies are not regarded as “good progress.”

GKN plc GKN fights back against some of the more dubious claims made by Melrose in an attempt to ensure that GKN shareholders have information which is both complete and correct and that they will not be influenced by Melroses misleading statements. GKN scathingly  makes the point that Melrose has failed to disclose any plans for GKN’s aerospace business but at the same time is lambasting GKN for having copied those non existent plans. It points out that Melrose is a novice in automotive, without experience as a tier one supplier, only minimal experience in aerospace and only a minimal track record in both automotive and aerospace.

If words are anything to go by GKN must be winning hands down by the clarity and factual nature of its responses which compare well with the frenzied attitude adopted by Melrose. Unfortunately this battle between behemoths will not be won by words but as is usual in these cicumstances, by greed.

Softcat SCT In the six months to the 31st January Softcat enjoyed strong growth, robust customer demand, strong cash generation and profitable gains in market share. Revenue for the half year rose by 24.9%, operating profit by 19.1% and the interim dividend is to be increased by 13.8% to 3.3p per share.

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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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Braemar Shipping Fights Back

Braemar Shipping BMS Half year figures to 31st august illustrate the savage decline which has hit the worldwide shipping market. A fall in revenue from £79.6m to £70.2m resulted in earnings per share falling from 13.3p to 0.4p and operating profit declining from £5.3m to £0.3m. Braemar however gives the definite impression that it is fighting back successfully against  the challenges which it faces. Shipbroking has produced a resilient performance in volatile conditions. The Technical division has suffered most but is being realigned to current market conditions and the group claims it is well placed to take advantage of any upturn. The interim dividend is unchanged.

GKN plc GKN The collapse in sterling gave GKN a massive bonus in the 9 months to the end of September with a 21% increase in sales. The currency benefit amounted to £ 474m or some 6% of the rise and three times the miserable 2% which came from from organic growth

Whitbread International WTB claims a good set of results with strong growth for the six months to the 1st September and is raising its interim dividend by 4.9%. Powered by Premier Inns and Costa total revenue grew by 8.1% as both divisions increased market share. Premier Inns revenue rose by 8.9% or 2.4% on a like for like basis whilst total sales at Costa were up by `10.7% or 2.3% on a like for like basis

Pendragon PDG Third quarter sales to 30th September have risen by 5.7% and like for like  profit is up  by 6.3%. Priority is being given to used car sales, which have been particularly strong with revenue growth of 8.3%.  The company has not noticed any change in customer attitudes which can be attributed to the referendum.

On The Beach Group OTB Despite terrorist attacks and the slump in the pound OTB  delivered a year of highly profitable growth and traded well during the 12 months to the end of September. UK revenue grew by 12% which was less than expected but underlying profit before tax will be marginally ahead of the top end of market expectations. Since the last update in July demand for beach holidays has remained resilient.

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