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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 – BT lines crossed; sacrificial lamb chosen; board saved

BT Group plc BT.A Todays announcement from BT that the Chief Executive is to make an unexpected and unplanned exit illustrates that the Board and the Chairman may have a problem which in turn illustrates that BT has a problem. The problem appears to be that the top management is confused and incapable of expressing itself logically. Reaction to recent results, bemoans the Chairman, has thoroughly demonstrated both to him and to the outgoing Chief Executive that there is need for a change of leadership to deliver the strategy set out by the Chief Executive and his team. So the Chief Executive is to go, whether stabbed in the back or falling on his sword, one know not but this is where the Chairman and the Board just tie themselves into knots. There is nothing wrong it appears with the Chief Executives strategy. It has the full support of the board says the Chairman “The Board is fully supportive of the strategy recently set out by Gavin and his team.”

So why has Gavin alone been selected for the chop. It does seem slightly illogical that the board should escape Scot free from the consequences of something to which it gave its full support. Sacrificial lambs, this way, please.

Games Workshop Group GAW has today announced a dividend of 30p per share, payable on the 27th July, as the sales and profit growth previously announced has continued to the and of the year on the 3rd June. Group profit before tax for the year is expected to be not less than 74m.

Hargreaves Services plc HSP updates that trading has been satisfactory during the year to the 31st May and results are expected to be in line with expectations.

Distil plc DIS Both sales volume and revenue continued to grow strongly across all channels during the year to the 31st March.Turnover and gross profit both rose by 23% and the company expects to build on its success during the coming year.

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Ian Pollard – Galliford Try Cuts Dividend After Strong First Half

Galliford Try GFRD Has done the unthinkable, especially for a housebuilder which claims to have delivered a strong first half performance. It has not just tweaked its interim dividend, it has cut it by a hefty 13% The reason is of course perfectly natural. It wants to increase dividend cover to twice pre exceptional earnings. One of those exceptional items is £25.m lost through its relationship with Carillon.True, revenue did rise by 14% but profit before tax was down 11% and earnings per share 9%. Perhaps shareholders are hoping that the second half will not be quite as strong as the first half.

Sky plc SKY has won four packs of football rights covering 128 games from 2019 to 2022 and they have got away with paying 16% less than before for the so called privilege. Could this be the first sign that the allure of football has at last begun to fade as viewers get fed up watching grossly overpriced and overrated foreign players ducking, diving and brazenly cheating and fouling through 90 minutes of what used to be called sport. If the money continues to shrink may we eventually return to the days when we will see an English team with enough talent to enable it to start winning matches again.

Hargreaves Services HSP is another company to come unstuck in its first half with revenue for the six months to the 30th November falling from £170 .9m. to £150.3m. and earnings per share down from 0p to a loss of 4p per share. A tiny profit of 0.1m was also turned into a much bigger operating loss of 2.7m., results which were in line with management expectations. But the board stood by its shareholders in these difficult times and maintained its interim dividend at 2.7p per share.

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Hargreaves Services; Profits Down 75%, Divi Up 58%

Hargreaves Services HSP warned in December that the half time figures would be bad and they are. Although like for like revenue for the 6 months to 30th November fell by only 2.2%, like for like profit before tax was down by 75% and underlying diluted earnings per share by 95.7%.  As is usual in these circumstances the Board decided that it would be wise to look after the shareholders and they have certainly done that with a rise in the interim dividend of  of 58.8%. The share price has been strong since the end of October having risen by a maximum of 40%.

The Chairman says it is pleasing to see how much progress has been achieved in meeting the targets which the company set itself a year ago.

NEX Group NXG benefited substantially in quarter 3 from the high volatility and increase in trading activity which followed Trump’s election success. On the day after Trump’s victory BrokerTec enjoyed its second highest volume day on record. Average daily volume for quarter 3 in IS and EU repos rose by 8% and 11% respectively. Volatility in the dollar/yen saw average daily volume surge by 23%.

Group like for like 3rd quarter revenue rose by 11% on a constant currency basis but the arrival of the new year saw volumes become much more muted and NEX admits that it is too early to say that previous long term subdued market conditions have come to a permanent end.

Tracsis TRCS Group revenue for the half year to 31st January rose from £13.1m. to £15.5m. and both EBITDA and adjusted pre tax profit  are expected to be slightly ahead.  The second half should prove to be significantly stronger than the first half and full year revenue and profit are expected to be in line.

Animalcare Group ANCR reports a very strong first half, ahead of the boards expectations and the interim dividend is to be increased by 11.1%. Revenue for the 6 months to the 31st December rose by 12%. Reported operating profit was up by 23.5% and basic earnings per share by 23%. Exports led the way with export revenue  rising by 37.7%

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Hargreaves Services – Coal Becoming King Again

Hargreaves Services HSP updates that trading conditions in the six months to the 30th November have become more stable and a strong second half is expected, despite contract delays in the Industrial Services Division. Coal is becoming king again with profits from the UK coal division expected to exceed forecasts and be some £3m ahead of management expectations. The German coal distribution division is trading very strongly helped by price increases and recovery in its markets.

KOOVS plc KOOV Another six months of amazing growth is how Koov’s CEO, Mary Turner, describes the half year to 30th September. The interim loss before tax soared from last years £5.7m to £9.1m due to increasing investment in marketing and technology, whilst sales grew by 114%, active customers by 138% and website traffic by 132%

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Hargreaves Services in Meltdown – Recovery Anyone ?

Hargreaves Services HSP went into meltdown in the year to 31st May leaving the total dividends for the year to be slashed by over 92%, as it went through a second successive year of tumultuous market conditions and  almost a complete absence of demand for coal by UK power stations.Last years profit before tax of £24.9m was turned into a loss of £10.6m after like for like revenue declined by 48.6%. Net debt soared by over 3,000% to £32.3m

But, with true Yorkshire grit, Hargreaves has not given up. Fully aware of the problems it was facing, the company has now completed a restructuring and re-positioning programme enabling the Chairman to deliver a positive view of the future which he says, will develop and deliver significant shareholder value. The share price has  been comparatively steady since mid May. Anyone for recovery??

Smiths Group SMIN expects revenue for the year to 31st July will be above both expectations and the previous year, due to a stronger operational performance and the favourable impact of a stronger US$, which has more than offset a10% decline in the John Crane subsidiary. Full year operating profit will also be above expectations but because of the John Crane problems will be below the level of last year.

boohoo.com BOO performed well during its first quarter and this has maintained with robust demand and sales momentum continuing into the second quarter. results for the full year will now be above expectations, says the company, with sales growth of between 28 and 33%.

Amec Foster Wheeler AMFW After turning last years first half profit of £73m into a thumping loss of £446m for the current year, Foster Amec has bowed to the inevitable and halved its interim dividend from 14.8p to 7.4p per share. The Chairman blames the very challenging conditions which have led to cancellations and delay in capital projects in many parts of the world.

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The UK Ancient & Modern

Despite their best efforts Harold Wilson, Ted Heath, Kinnock, Blair, Old Uncle Tom Cameron and all did not manage to destroy completely the UK’s industrial base.It is still there, even if there were times when it looked like they may succeed and even if it is limited to the Barnsley- Sheffield triangle and a couple of Welsh valleys.

Firstly, Hargreaves Services (HSP) – Hargreaves, a name from the north, a name full of grit and determination. With a name like that it has to be in coal and steel and it is, at least for the next year or two. As with most things from the north it has fallen on hard times and has just slashed its interim dividend by 83% from 10p to a miserable 1.7p.

As if that were not enough, like for like profit before tax for the 6 months to 31st January is down by 94.7% and like for like revenue by 50.2%, all due to the widely reported pressures in the UK coal and steel markets.

Hargreaves however has a cunning plan, or two.  Firstly it has built itself a range of exciting opportunities with its extensive property portfolio and over the next eighteen months it will be reducing further its exposure to steel and thermal coal.

The share price has naturally not been well and has lost 75% of its value,  from a high of 886p, almost two years ago to the day, to its present 215p, which includes a 9% fall this morning.

Now for the modern. Pendragon (PDG) is not just the UK’s largest automotive retailer, it is its largest online automotive retailer and you can not get more modern than that.

Pendragon’s final dividend for the year to 31st December is being raised by 44% after another record breaking year, in which profit before tax rose by 22.3% and earnings per share by 19.4%. Despite that, its share price is well down, having fallen with some speed from a January high of 49p to 37p which includes a rise of a penny this morning.  It just goes to show there is no pleasing those city chaps.

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