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Ian Pollard – WH Smith #SMWH benefits from “potentially poisonous” slime related products

WH Smith plc SMWA  appears to be well esconced in cloud cuckoo land with a claim that it had a good year in the High Street where trading profit fell by 3%. Nonetheless it identified and joined the latest trend by becoming a one-stop-shop for all “slime related” products. Not surprisingly a relationship to slime  was followed by a 3% fall in revenue,which is perhaps a good thing. Despite the strength of travel where revenue rose by 3% on a like for like basis, group profit before tax for the year to 31st August was down by 4% and diluted earnings per share by 5%. All this lack of success resulted in a 13% rise in the final dividend, no doubt well justified and logical in the eyes of the board. Let us hope that those slime related products are not as unsafe and potentially harmful as some busybodies like Which are beginning to suggest. Otherwise that 3% drop in revenue may be regarded as having been a good year as news of alleged safety problems including burns begin to surface. The dangers of slime related toys were exposed by The Telegraph as recently as July when it reported that consumer watchdogs found many slime related toys are potentially poisonous because of their boron content.exposure to excessive levels of which can cause irritation, diarrhea, vomiting and cramps in the short term,

Countryside Props CSP produced one of the biggest disasters to hit the house building industry in recent times. It was forced to reduce its average selling price by 7% in the year to the 30th September due to what is described as “regional mix”.(nothing to do with Mother’s Pride I am assured) However, with the average selling price still as high as 402,000 there is still plenty of room for more good news for the few who can still afford to buy a house. Completions for the year rose by 27% and as at the year end the total order book was up by 40% compared to 2017

Dunelm Group plc DNLM reports total like for like revenue growth of +4.2% in its first quarter to the 29th September, compared to 9.3% for the previous year. In fact but for tablet-based selling in-store for home delivery, underlying like for like performance would have fallen by 0.4% which is not a good sign at all. Online sales however helped to save the day with a rise of 33% which would have been even greater at over 50% had those in store online tablet sales been included.

Hays plc HAS claims a good start to its financial year, with yet another record quarterly net fee performance producing growth of 9%. The Rest of The World in particular showed strong growth with the USA and China, up 27% and 29% respectively.

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Ian Pollard – Churchill China #CHH Smashing Export Records

Churchill China CHH has delivered a strong first half performance and is increasing its interim dividend by 18%. Profit before tax and earnings per share both rose by 24% but perhaps the best news of all is that export revenue which grew by 17%, now represent 63% of group revenue, up from last years 57%.

Hays plc HAS delivered record international profits in the year to the 30th June as well as record total dividends for the year. Profit before tax rose by 17% and basic earnings per share by 18%. As usual the UK & Ireland was the laggard with only 2% net fee growth compared to 17% for the Rest of the World and 16% for Germany. Core dividends for the full year are increased by 18% plus payment of a special dividend of 5p per share.

W.H. Smith plc SMWH updates that the travel business performed strongly for the year to the 31st August. Perhaps not surprisingly the high street business only performed in line with expectations.

Hunting plc HTG is restoring its interim dividend with a payment of cents per share for the half year to the 30th June after enjoying a strong increase in volumes manufactured during the first half of 2018 and compared to 2017 when the interim dividend was nil. Reported profit from operations came in at $38.9m compared to last years loss of $23.9m loss. Results for the half year are underpinned, says the CEO by a strong market environment which has led to outstanding results for Hunting Titan and improving profitability for Hunting’s US operations. Reported diluted earnings per share rose to19.1 cents per share compared to 2017’s loss of 15.8 cents loss per share.

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Ian Pollard – Saga Blames Profits Fall On Cost Savings

Saga plc SAGA In its preliminary results for the year to 3st January Saga comes out with the statement that the fall of 7.6% in like for like profit before tax is due (inter alia) to cost savings. No wonder the CEO admits that it has been a challenging few months for the company with the share price under pressure. Like for like earnings per share fell by a similar amount, down 7.8%. As a sign of what could be done, there was strong growth in travel with a rise of 36.9% The full year dividend is to be increased by 5.9% to 9p per share but just imagine where it might have been without those cost savings.

WH Smith plc SMWH claims it delivered a good performance in the half year to the 28th February with the interim dividend increased by 10% as senior management celebrates falls of 1% in profit before tax, diluted earnings per share and profit from trading operations, not to mention a 6% drop in High Street trading profit. In fact the only growth came from the travel division which once more saved the day with a 5% rise in trading profit. The CEO is confident in the outcome for the full year. Shareholders can only hope that it will not be as “strong” as the first half.

Dunelm DNLM The new Chief Executive says has become increasingly excited since he joined the company in February but that may soon wear off once he has to deal with the reality of keeping store sales rising.In the quarter to the 31st March like for like online sales rose by 35.7% and store sales by 1.2%, a sign of the times if ever there was one. Total group sales for the quarter rose by 5.1% but gross margins were down by 15bps although they are expected to improve in quarter 4. No new stores at all are to be opened in the second half which is perhaps an even greater sign of the times.

Hays plc HAS Total net fees for the three months to the 31st March grew by 9% as the world, with the exception of the UK, prospered.  Again the figures reveal the plight of the UK economy where net fees fell by 2% compared for exmple to Germany which had a record quarter with a rise of 19%. Twenty of the company’s 33 markets achieved double digit growth which makes the UK look sick indeed.

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WH Smith – Now A Travel Company

WH Smith PLC SMWH has now become a travel company rather than a high street retailer, as for the first time, Travel revenue has overtaken High Street revenue. Travel has now become the largest part of the group producing over 60% of group trading profit. Preliminary results for the year to the 31st August show a rise of 7% in group profit before tax and a 10% increase in the dividend, which is accompanied by a share buy back of up to 50m. The company describes its performance as good, despite total revenue for the year being completely flat, with a like for like 4% increase in travel revenue, offsetting the 4% decline in the High Street.

SKY plc SKY has made a strong start to the year with excellent profit growth in the first quarter despite a fall in the UK advertisng market and pressure on consumer spending. Like for like revenue grew by 5% and EBITDA by 11%. In fact whichever part of the business you look at, it has produced growth. Purchases of pay as you go sports and entertainment have risen by 12% and viewings of pay channels are up by 10%. Further growth is expected as the year progresses and the key target is now Europe.

Hays plc HAS produced another record quarterly net fee performance, with widespread growth throughout the group. Continental Europe, again led by Germany, and the rest of the World saw a rise of 13% and 13 additional countries had growth rates in excess of 10%. The UK and Ireland were again laggards with a mere 1%, the temp business being flat and negatively affected by tough market conditions in the public sector. There were also wide and unexplained regional variations in the UK with the South West and Wales up by 14% but the East of England showing a steep decline of 11%

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Jimmy Choo going for global luxury leadership

Jimmy Choo CHOO With profit before tax for the half year to 30th June rising by 174.2% to £18.1m, Jimmy Choo is delighted with itself both for its performance and for the excellent strategic progress made by its management. Revenue growth was ahead of the market at 16.5%, or 4.5% on a constant currency basis. Like for like retail sales rose by 3.5% across all regions. Earnings per share were up by 140% and EBIT by 24.5%. Its platform is also exciting it with its two iconic brands aiming to achieve global leadership in luxury retail.

Ladbroke Coral LCL Group revenue in the half year to the 30th June rose by 1%, EBITDA was flat, basic earnings per hare halved from 2p to 1p and reported profit after tax was slightly down. In celebration of these mundane statistics which Ladbroke claims represent good operational and financial progress the interim dividend is being doubled from 1p to 2p per share. The second half is being looked forward to with confidence and will produce £45m of synergies which by 2019 are expected to be more than double the original estimate of £150m

Hays plc HAS is celebrating a milestone year which saw it produce record levels of fees and profits enabling shareholders to be rewarded with payment of a special dividend of 4.25p per share plus an 11% increase in the ‘core’ dividend. The total dividend payout for the year to 30th June has more than doubled from £41.7m for 2016 to this years £108m. Profit before tax rose by 18% and basic earnings per share by 14%

Churchill China CHH has maintained its record of improved performance over several years and is increasing its interim dividend for the six months to the 30th June, by 17% after a rise of 30% in profit before tax. Basic earnings per share rose by 32%. Further improvements are continuing into the all important second half.

Restaurant Group RTN is maintaining its interim divided for the half year to the 2nd Jule and current trading is in line with expectations. Half year like for like sales were down 2.2% and on a statutory basis  total sales fell by 7.1%. Adjusted earnings per share were down from 14.3p to 10p and profit before tax fell from £36.6m to £25.5m

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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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Hays Drops 8% in London

Hays pls HAS earned all time record net fees in the quarter to 31st March with like for like group fee growth of 10%. Full year operating profit is now expected to be at the top of the current range of market estimates. Continental Europe and the Rest of the World produced 18% broad based growth, led, as usual, by Germany with 23%. Also, as usual, it seems these days, the UK and Ireland performed very badly with a fall of 4% and very significantly London doubled that with an 8% drop.

This is the second time in two days that a major global UK company has reported bad results from the UK which just does not seem to be able to get its act together and grow like the rest of the world is growing. Are these signs that the UK economy is developing or has developed serious problems in its service industries where in the past it has always shone.

There are numerous manufacturing companies, brilliant technology companies which are becoming or have already become world leaders in their field in virtually no time at all, so there is no sign of our inventive genius having fled in the face of Brexit. Where are we going wrong in other areas ?

Blue Prism Group PRSM Expects that after strong first half sales so far and a continuing build up in momentum, full year revenue will be significantly ahead of existing market expectations. Interim results are due to be published in June.

SRT Marine Systems SRT expects that profit before tax for the year to 31st March will be significantly ahead of market expectations after earning revenue of £11m, also ahead of last year. During the year significant progress has been made in all its business segments on a world wide basis.

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Burberry Fails To Benefit From Collapse In Sterling

Burberry BRBY claims that its ambitious revenue growth plans are on track with a 4% drop in revenue for the six months to the end of September. Presumably it can find some form of logic in that but if there is it certainly seems to have escaped the CEO who produces a wordy paragraph of what read like vague and empty promises and explanations to justify the company’s performance. True, the second quarter did show some improvement with like for like sales rising by 2%, compared to the first quarters fall of 3%. Wholesale revenue for the half year fell by 14%, demand in the Americas is described as uneven and licensing revenue fell by 54% after the planned expiry of Japanese licences. Digital was one strong point and outperformed in all regions.

Burberry is just the sort of company which was supposed to reap large benefits from the collapse of sterling and is yet more proof, if proof were needed that company’s are failing miserably to take advantage of this so called golden opportunity.

Hays plc HAS shows the UK slumping whilst the rest of the world gets on with making itself prosperous.Whilst Asia Pacific grew by 30% in the quarter to the end of September and Continental Europe and the Rest Of the World by 33%, poor old UK & Ireland actually fell by 10%. As an example of how bad this is,  France managed  to produce 22% growth. recruitment is one of the main bel lweather of any economy. On these figures the UK’s bell is badly cracked. Hays claims it has a world class management team in the UK and it is leading the company through uncertain times.

Utilitywise UTW is increasing its dividend by 30% for the year to the end of July, after a 22% rise in revenue led an increase of 7% in profit before tax. Net debt was down by 97%. Customer numbers were up by 23% in the UK and Ireland and by 49% internationally.

Gear4Music G4M Strong first half revenue and profit growth seems set to be followed by  a strong Christmas trading period and the board believes that full year results will now be ahead of its previous expectations.Revenue for the half year to the end of August rose by 73% and gross profit by by 74%. Adjusted profit before tax came in at £966,000 after last years first half loss of £217,000.  Europe produced particularly strong growth, especially in July and August and now accounts for nearly 40% of sales.

Marshall Motor Holdings MMH claims it knows of no reason for recent share price movements, other than general speculation about the possible consequence of Brexit. Since the end of June the company has enjoyed material growth in revenue and profits, following two acquisitions and September produced significant like for like new vehicle sales growth, whilst after sales revenue also grew strongly.

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Weak New Car Sales Cast A Cloud

600 Group SIXH 60% of group activities are now in the US giving the company considerable protection against any damaging consequences from Brexit.  Only 13% of group sales go to Europe and the company is now concentrating on building up its presence in South East Asia.The year to 2nd April was not a good one with profit before tax nosediving from £3.68m. to £1.01m and earnings per share more than halving from from 2.66p to 1.26p. Machine tools is a challenging market and the company did well to show a 3% rise in revenue and it is contuing to implement structural changes.

Hays plc HAS claims an excellent financial performance for the year to 30th June, with like for like net fee growth of 7%, producing an 11% rise in profit before tax and a 14% rise in earnings per share. The final dividend is to be increased by 5%.  Both earnings and cash were ahead of market expectations, although on net fee growth the UK and Ireland lagged behind the rest of the world. The broad geographical spread of the company’s activities saw more than 22 countries producing growth in excess of 10%.

Safestore Hldgs SAFE saw its strong trading performance continue during quarter 3. to the  Like for like revenue to 31st July rose by 6.6% at constant exchange rates, the UK being particularly strong with a rise of 7.5%. Closing occupancy rates were up by 2.6% and again the UK put in a strong performance. The weakness of sterling helped results from the Paris operation. Pricing during the quarter was robust with the average rate up 0.6%. Tax adjusted earnings were ahead of current market expectations.

Vertu Motors VTU Expects that full year results will show robust trading with profitability ahead of last year and revenue and profitability both reaching record levels. There is however the odd cloud or two looming on the horizon in that new retail vehicle registrations have been weak since April and the company expects this to continue.New vehicle orders for September are reflecting the changed situation.

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Daily Actions – UK Main & IM markets 13012016

IntellisysLogoDaily Actions is a daily summary analysis of changes in short term actions from our Daily Recs – AIM and Daily Recs Main markets reports. This report is typically distributed before the open of trading in London.

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