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Ian Pollard – Intercontinental #IHG; Year Of Excellent Progress, Divi Up 10%

Intercontinental Hotels Grp IHG presents a jargon riddled preliminary report for the year to the 31st December which makes for difficult reading, not  made any easier by giving its readers a choice between Segment results and Group results. which excludes exceptional items, except for basic earnings per share. Group results show a 6% rise in revenue, operating profit down by 7% and basic earnings per share down by 34%. The total dividend is to be increased by 10% after what the CEO describes as a year of excellent progress, which delivered a strong set of financial results.

Greggs plc GRG updates that it has made an exceptionally strong start to 2019 with total sales up 14.1% for the seven weeks to 16 February after a strong finish to 2018. Credit goes in the main to the exceptional sales performance  following the January launch of its vegan-friendly sausage roll which apparantly received extensive publicity for some reason. At least it made a change from Brexit headlines.The Board now anticipates that 2019 full year underlying profit before tax  is likely to be ahead of previous expectations.

First Group plc FGP Delivers a winter update which recognises that overall conditions in its markets remain uncertain, and poor weather retains the potential to affect its performance. Reported Group revenue growth for the year to date comes in at 13.7% supporting an unchanged outlook for the full year. Greyhound continues to face a difficult trading environment in some markets.A disappointing operating performance for passengers is recognised at First Rail. This resulted in like-for-like passenger revenue growth slowing  to 4.2%. and is blamed on significant infrastructure challenges.

Spectris plc SXS produced a 2018 performance which was slightly ahead of expectations and on a statutory basis delivered good LFL sales growth of 5% during the year to the 31st December.Profit before tax rose by 22%, basic earnings per share by 20% and the dividend is to be increased by 8%. The new Chief Executive says that Group would benefit from becoming a more focused and simplified business.

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Ian Pollard – Sainsbury #SBRY board reduced to Meaningless Twaddle.

Sainsbury J plc SBRY You know that Sainsbury has a serious problem when the best which it can find to say about Chistmas is that Convenience stores hit a new record on Christmas Eve. Management gives the impression that it is lost for words and so it should be. It has been absolutely trounced during the Christmas quarter by that Bradford upstart and arch enemy, Morrisons.The only explanation it can manage to offer is the stunning “Retail markets are highly competitive and very promotional and the consumer outlook continues to be uncertain.” I think most people apart, apparantly from Sainsbury’s management, already knew that.

For the 15  weeks to the 5th January total retail sales fell by 0.4% and like for like retail by 1.1%. Grocery did do better with a rise of 0.4%, whilst as a continuing sign of the times, Grocery online and Convenience positively surged by 6% and 3% respectively. The company has had to admit that it could not compete on General Merchandise because the market is highly competitive and promotional and sales declined by 2.3% with margins under pressure.

Sainsburys does however have a solution. It has a new priority. It is going to “further enhance its differentiated food proposition” – in other words management will, as usual in these circumstances, seek refuge in jargon in the hope that nobody will notice it has been reduced to meaningless twaddle as a first line of defence.

Taylor Wimpey TW produced another strong performance in the year to the 31st December. Home completions increased by 3%  and 3,416 affordable homes were delivered as against 2809 in 2017. What happened to the unaffordable homes, nobody bothers to say. Presumably they were dumped in Barnsley. The overall average selling price remained flat at £264k which is never a sign of a boyant market.The order book did however rise strongly during the year from 7,136 homes in 2017 to 8,304 homes in 2018.

Ted Baker TED increased sales by 12.2%  in the five week period from 2 December 2018 to 5 January 2019. E-commerce sales did even better with an increase of 18.7%  and now account for 25.7% of total retail sales. The company regards this as a good performance attained despite the “continuing challenging external trading conditions across its markets.”

Greggs plc GRG With fourth quarter total sales up 7.2%  Greggs claims a very strong finish to a year of significant strategic progress.. Many managements are beginning to learn that they can make themselves look really good by  stressing how serious market problems, which they have to overcome, are. So Gregg’s achievements  were achieved despite the well-publicised challenges in the consumer sector but In 2019 things will get even better. In 2019 it will execute the “supply chain change programme” despite  ( chorus please,altogether now )”the many economic and other uncertainties hanging over the consumer environment.”


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Ian Pollard – Thomas Cook Suspends Dividend

Thomas Cook Group TCG updates on its expected results for the year to the end of September and at first it looks like a mixed bag until you get to the important bits, the main one of which is that the full year dividend is being suspended. On top of that it has been impacted in the lates market where the UK was particularly disappointing. the prolonged period of hot weather in the key summer trading period is blamed for a larger-than-anticipated decline in gross margins, whereas other tour operators welcomed it as being good for business. Perhaps this is indicative of the quality of Cooks management..The final result is expected to be around £30 million lower than it had previously hoped for

Intertek Group plc ITRK is going from strength to strength with organic revenue growth accelerating during the first 10 months of the year. In the first half group revenue rose by 3.4% whilst in the quarter from July to October growth increased to 4.5%. Generally growth in different divisions is described as varying from robust to strong.

Greggs plc GRG Total sales rose by 9.0% in the nine weeks to 24 November and full year 2018 profit before tax is expected  to be at least £86 million.The improved trading performance reported in the third quarter trading update  strengthened further in October and November. Like-for-like sales sales in the nine week to the 24th November are ahead of expectations.

Pennon Group plc PNN delivered a strong performance in the first six month to the 30th September, with profit before tax up by 8.7% and EBITDA by 8.1%. Good news for the consumer is that South West waters  average bills are lower than they were 9 years ago, with further falls to come over the next seven years.

Renew plc RNWH trumpets another set of excellent results for the year to the 30th September, with profit  before tax down by 25.8% and adjusted earnings per share by 4.6%. As is  perfectly normal in these circumstances the dividend is to be hiked by 11%.  I wonder also why year end net debt has risen so sharply to £21.4m. from a net cash position of £3.9m at the end of last year. Perhaps it is due to that excellent set of results.or the 0.8% fall in group revenue.

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Ian Pollard – Aviva #AV CEO Departs – Search For Successor Starts Today

Aviva plc AV announces that Mark Wilson the CEO is stepping down as from today. The Aviva board seems to believe that there is no point in keeping him because he was appointed to do a job and he has done it. The job was fairly important in that it was mainly to save the heads of the Board by delivering the turnaround of Aviva. That has now been successfully delivered opines the Board. It appears that this is the accepted way of rewarding senior executives at Aviva who have proved themselves a success. For the real truth however, read between the lines. The search for a successor has not even started. In fact the Board admits that the search will only start today.  What a way to manage a company. What an exercise  in man mismanagement. The Board is quite happy to leave the company leaderless, perhaps for months. With a Board like that, Aviva may well soon  need to find somebody to turn the company round.once again. One can only be left wondering why it could not just tell the truth about what really happened. It must have been fairly dramatic.

Greggs plc GRG claims to have traded well in quarter 3 with total sales up by 7.3 per cent (2017: 8.6 per cent) and like-for-like sales in company-managed shops up by 3.2 per cent compared to last years 5%. Total sales have risen by 5.9 per cent in the year-to-date and expectations for the full year remain unchanged.

YouGov plc YOU is increasing its final dividend by 50% for the year to 31st July after rises of 42% in adjusted profit before tax and 52% in adjusted earnings per share. Group revenue for the year rose by 9%. The US remains the largest profit generator with adjusted operating profit increasing by 78%. Trading in the current year has started well.

Ceres Power Holdings plc CWR sees 2018 as having been a landmark year with revenue and other income up by 71% in the 12 months to the 30th June..The order book as at todays date had surged from 3m to 30m.

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Ian Pollard – Taylor Wimpey Sees Surge In Profits

Taylor Wimpey TW With profit before tax surging by 46.8% during the six months to the first of July Taylor Wimpey saw demand for its homes remain strong in the first half despite some wider macroeconomic uncertainty.The interim ordinary dividend is to be increased from 2.3p per share to 2.44p. The number of homes completed fell slightly by 151 to 6,497 due mainly to bad weather during the first quarter and the average selling price rose at a more modest rate than in the recent past, from 287,000 to 295,000. Profit before tax rose from 205m. to 301m. A special dividend for 2019 of £350 million is re confirmed.

Rentokil plc RTO  claims continued positive momentum  during the first half to the 30th June and is increasing its interim dividend by 15%. Profit before tax fell by 81.5% and basic earnings per share by 85.2%, unless you prefer your statistics on an adjusted basis in which case the figures were a more acceptable 1.5 and 1.9% respectively. Full tear guidance remains unchanged.

Greggs plc GRG claims to have delivered a resilient performance despite challenging market conditions during the six months to the 30th June. The ordinary interim dividend is to be increased by 3.9%  but it is anticipated that underlying profits before exceptional costs for the full year will only be at a similar level to 2017.

Thomas Cook Group plc TCG produced strong revenue growth in the third quarter whilst for the year as a whole so far, growth in both new and retained customers has been strong, at 12% and 5% respectively. Bookings for this summer have risen by 11%. The company anticipates that growth in full year underlying operating profit will be at the lower end of market expectations as continued margin pressure in the UK and continued aggressive pricing in the Spanish Islands from the competition plus bed cost inflation from hoteliers, will impact results..

Just Eat plc JE. Has produced a strong first half performance, with revenue for the six months to the 30th June rising by 45 %, orders by 30% and adjusted basic earnings per share by 13%. Despite these figures, profit before tax fell by 3% because of the additional costs incurred in the acquisition of Hungry House.  Revenue guidance is raised for for the full year to between £740 – £770 million, up from £660 – £700 million.

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Ian Pollard – Greggs #GRG Finds Trading Environment Challenging

Greggs GRG found that the trading environment in March and April became challenging and although May has started more strongly, the company is now cautious about the sales outlook for the remainder of the year. Total sales in the first 18 weeks of the year rose by 4.7% but like for like sales in company managed shops could only manage 1.3%, compared to last years 3.7%

Compass Group CPG claims another strong half for the 6 months to the 31st March, with good revenue growth and excellent progress in North America where organic revenue rose by 7.3%. The UK  also enjoyed good growth. setting the lead in Europe.The interim dividend is to be increased by 9.8%, matching the increase in organic earnings per share.On a statutory basis revenue and earnings per share showed falls of 0.8% and 2.7% respectively. For the full year organic growth above the middle of the 4-6% range, is expected. 

Imperial Brands plc IMB admits that it regularly reviews not just its dividends but its dividend policy to ensure that shareholders are kept happy. The result for the half year to the 31st March is that the interim dividend is increased by 10%, after falls all round in the adjusted and operating figures. The largest declines were 26.9% in basic earnings per share and 7.6% in reported operating profit.On an adjusted basis, earnings per share were down by 6.2% and tobacco volume by 2.1%.  Net tobacco revenue fell by 5% and adjusted tobacco operating profit by 8%. The Chief Executive describes this as good progress.

TUI AG TUI Second quarter turnover rose by 6.3% with Hotels & Resorts and Cruises leading the way with rises of 15.2% and 17.1% respectively. The total rise in all segments came out at 4.9% but the net loss for the quarter rose by 13.7% and for the half year by 18.5%. This is described as a good first half performance and expectations for the full year are for growth of at least 10% in underlying EBITA

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Ian Pollard – Savills becomes a ‘Residential Transaction Business Operator’.

Savills plc SVS no longer has estate agencies in the UK. They have gone posh, moved up market and now describe themselves as operating residential transaction businesses. That really will send the share price rocketing. Whatever they call themselves they have experienced a stronger than anticipated finish to the year, with the UK proving resilient in achieving year on year revenue growth in challenging markets. Asia. Pacific and continental European transactional businesses have performed ahead of expectations  and underlying results for the year to 31st December will be ahead of previous expectations.

Dunelm Group DNLM Quarter 2 and second half sales provide further evidence of the rise and rise of online sales and the decline and fall of old fashioned store sales. Dunelm continued to gain market share in the six months to the 30th December with total revenue rising by 13.6% in the second quarter and 18.4% over the half year. The star performer was however like for like online sales with rises of 30.5% and 36.8% respectively, compared to a lowly 1.1% for quarter two like for like store sales. The writing is well and truly on the wall, with online sales now accounting for 16% of total sales.

JD Sports Fashion JD Headline profit before tax for the year to the 3rd February will now be about 300m., slighty above previous expectations. Positive levels of performance have continued throughout the second half and like for like store sales, including Europe have grown by 3.3%, with further growth coming from online sales and  expansion in overseas selling space.

Greggs plc GRG Fourth quarter trading was particularly favourable and provided the 17th consecutive quarter of like for like sales growth. Like for like sales in company managed shops rose by 3.7%. As at the 31st December Greggs had 1854 shops open and will increase the rate new shop openings in 2018 from last years 131. Industry wide cost pressure are expected to ease in 2018 but the customer environment is still seen as uncertain and emphasis will continue to be placed on what the company describes as providing outstanding customer value.

1PM PLC OPM Group revenue for the six months to the 30th November rose by 74% and profit before tax by 77% of which 34% was organic, as the group’s stated strategy proved to be successful.

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Greggs – Strong Rise in Like For Like Sales

Greggs GRG Third quarter sales grew by 8.6% over the 13 weeks to the 30th September. On a like for like basis the rise was 3.9%. For the year to date, like for like sales in company managed shops were up by 5% compared to 2.8% in 2016. So far in the current year 98 new shops have been opened and 32 closed with a total of 1830 trading at the quarter end. Recent trading has benefited from greater product availability and service.

Ferguson FERG enjoyed another good year in the 12 months to 31st July, with profit before tax nearly doubling from £675m. to £1180m. and the final dividend increased to 73p. making a total for the year of 110p, a rise of 10%. In addition a 500m share buy back program is announced which is expected to be completed over the next 12 months. Annual revenue rose by 22.5% or 6% on a like for like basis, whilst headline earnings per share rose by 6.8% at constant exchange rates. Momentum is expected to continue over the coming year.

Electrocomponents plc ECM expects first half headline profit before tax to rise to 78m. compared to last years 55m. The good trading seen in the first quarter has continued into the second quarter, with stronger than expected progress leading to faster revenue growth and gains in market share,  in all five regions. Group revenue for the quarter rose by 14%.

AB Dynamics ABDP expects revenue and profit before tax for the year to 31st August will be slightly ahead of analysts forecasts, with significant year on year growth in underlying revenue and profit before tax.

Inland Homes INL will today start a share back program of up to 1 million 10p ordinary shares, to be completed by 31st December 2017.

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Royal Mail Responds To Challenges

Royal Mail Group RMG One can adjust ones view of Royal Mails results for the year to 31st March, according to whether one prefers ones results on a reported or on an adjusted basis.Whichever one prefers the final dividend of 15.6% means a rise for the year of 4%. On a reported basis, profit before tax has risen by some 50% to £335m and basic earnings per share have risen from 21.5p to 27.5p.

Its main achievement for the year has been to respond to a challenging operating environment. No explanation is given as to what management found challenging in managing to deliver parcels and letters on time but these days no self respecting company misses the opportunity to say it operates in challenging conditions, which helps to make management look better than it actually is. On a positive note for the current years performance, RMG says it is past the peak of its investment spend.

Burberry Group BRBY tried to elevate its business in the year to 31st March, using key revenue drivers to enable it to  gain the necessary height. It also had growth in digital as it invested in omni channel – the ignorant amongst us may ask “omni channel” what ? Elevating the brand appears to have resulted in profit before tax falling by 21% on an underlying basis and 5% on an adjusted and reported basis, Dividends for the full year are to be increased by 5%. A new CEO will also come on board soon. Let us hope for the sake of  Burberry that he will have and keep his feet on the ground.

Greggs GRG has made a good start to the year with sales up by 7.5% on the first 19 weeks to the 13th May. There is growing demand for its £2 breakfast and for Balanced Choice but what may one ask will happen to the good old sausage sarnie – will that too become just a symbol of a bygone age? 87 shops have been refurbished during the year

Thomas Cook TCG enjoyed strong winter demand for Spain and long haul destinations led to a 3% revenue rise for the six months to 31st March. Online UK bookings have risen by 15%, way behind the Germans who are showing a rise of 35%. summer demand is strong for Greece and smaller European destinations,with  bookings from Northern & Continental Europe showing double digit growth and confirming that there is real momentum  behind managements strategy for growth.  Greece has proved to be the outstanding destination for the coming summer.

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Greggs Winter Warmer – Chipotle Pulled Beef

Greggs GRG Total sales for the 13 weeks to 1st October rose by 5.6% and on a like for like basis in company managed shops, the rise was 2.8% which are in line with expectations.  during the year to date 145 shops have been refurbished, 103 new ones opened and 58 closed. And just in case you gourmets had not heard the news, Gregs is looking to two new gastronomic delights to see it through the winter -Chipotle Pulled Beef, which sounds rather obscene and Fiery Pulled Chicken, yummy, yummy.

St. Ives plc SIV saw revenue rise by 7% during the year to 29th July but adjusted profit before tax fell by 8% and basic earnings per share by 13%. On a statutory basis last years profit before tax of £8.7m. was turned into a loss of £5.7m and basic earnings per share of 4.35 became a loss per share of 5.93p. The company interprets this as making important strategic progress across all three drivers of growth. It claims to be excited by the opportunities and well positioned to make further progress. As this years progress has been to turn last years profit into this years loss, that does not seem to be a very promising definition of “progress”.

Revolution Bars Group RBG produced strong growth and record profits for the year to 30th June. revenue rose by 6.9% or by 2.3% on a like for like basis. Profit before tax rose from last years £2.9m to £7.1m which on an adjusted basis turned into a rise of 10.8%, with adjusted earnings per share up by 14.1%. A final dividend of 3.3p per share is to be paid.

ScS Group SCS has turned last years 5.6p loss per share into positive earnings of 21.8p per share after significant growth for the 53 weeks to the end of July.. Gross sales, revenue and like for like orders each rose by over 14% and gross profit for the year is up by 17.3%. Dividends for the year are to rise by 3.6% after a proposed final dividend of 9.83p per share.The growth has continued after the year end, with like for like orders up by a further 4.5%

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