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ITV plc ITV made good progress in delivering its stategy in the quarter to the 31st March. Online viewing rose by 16% and Family Share of viewing by 4%. Total external revenue was down 4%. ITV Broadcast & Online revenue fared even worse with a fall of 7% at £489m compared to £526m in 2018 and ITV total advertising also fell by 7%. Advertising in the first half of the year will be impacted by continuing economic and political uncertainty with ITV total advertising expected to be down 6% over the first half. Over the full year delivery of double digit growth in online revenue is expected together with good organic revenue growth in ITV Studios.
Imperial Brands plc IMB claims a pleasing underlying tobacco performance in the six months to the 31st March with volume down 6.9%. Focus is being maintained on longstanding brands which are delivering high margin sales growth. In both Europe and the Americas revenue grew by 4%. Operating profit rose by 38.1%, basic earnings per share by 37.7% and the interim dividend is to be increased by 10%.
Travis Perkins plc TPK made a positive start to 2019 with strong first quarter sales growth. Like for like sales rose by 7.3% and total sales by 5.4%. Travis Perkins itself generated like-for-like sales growth of 8%, continuing the improving trend seen from the end of 2018.Wickes delivered encouraging sales growth in both DIY and showroom categories, with a strong turnaround in Kitchen and Bathroom performance. Sales in Plumbing & Heating were impacted by the milder winter.
Wetherspoon JD plc JDW saw third quarter like for like sales rise by 7.6% and total sales by 8.4%. Since the start of the financial year, the Company has opened three new pubs, closed seven and intends to open two further pubs in the current financial year. The trading outcome for the current financial year is expected to be in line.
Vertu Motors Plc VTU produced profit and cash generation ahead of expectations for the year to the end of February. The full year dividend is to be increased by 6.7% to 1.6p per share. Adjusted profit before tax of £23.7m was ahead of market expectations but down from £28.6m in 2018. Like-for-like revenue growth came in at 5.1% but in used vehicles revenue growth was particularly strong at 11.6%
Sports Direct Intl. plc SPD has confirmed that it is considering making a firm offer to Debenhams of 5p in cash per ordinary share valuing Debenhams current issued share capital at approximately £61.4 million. This would represent a premium of approximately 127 % to the closing price of Debenhams shares on 26 March.
Imperial Brands plc IMB updates that it is on track to meet constant currency net revenue and earnings expectations for the full year. Group net revenue growth is at, or above, the upper end of its 1-4% revenue growth range and earnings per share growth is within its 4-8% guidance range. Even tobacco is on track to deliver modest revenue growth.
Bellway plc BWY claims a robust performance for the six months to the 31st January with revenue rising by 12.4%, profit before tax by 8.7% and earnings per share by 8.3%. The interim dividend is to be raised by 5% but even more important than that is a sign which makes it appear that old fashioned boom times may be returning. The average selling price during the half year has risen by 6.5% which makes a number of the other housebuilders look quite pedestrian by comparison, unless they are about to play catch up when they release their latest figures. No wonder the much subsidised industry remains the governmments friend.
Hilton Food Group plc HFG saw revenue on a constant currency basis rise by 21.9% during the year to the end of December, whilst volume was up by 13.5%. After rises of 23.3% in adjusted profit before tax and 14.3% in adjusted basic earnings per share of 14.3%, the increase in the final dividend brings the total increases for the year to 12.6%.
Goals Soccer Centres GOAL has requested that its shares be suspended from trading on AIM. after announcing that there has been a substantial misdeclaration of VAT, going back over several years. The value currently stands at approximately £12.0 m.but the final figure has still to be established. Future profitability may be impacted by the accounting policies which the company intends to adopt and it remains in discussions with its lenders about new facilities.These may lead to a material change in the overall financial position of the company and it is currently unable to provide clarity as to the extent of that impact without the receipt of further information.
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.
Next plc NXT First half full price sales were up +4.5% on last year,. ahead of the +1.0% guidance given in January and the +2.2% given in May and even coming as a surprise to Next itself which admits that its performance was flattered by the unusually warm summer. The reality is that the market is still volatile and those headwinds continue to batter retailers in General. The even harsher truth is that over the past 10 years retail sales have fallen by 10% in whilst like-for-like sales are down by 32%. Next even admits that it does not know what the high street will look like in 10 years’ time which means that future will involve a constant process of reinvention and experimentation in the hope that somewhere along the line, it will get things right.
Imperial Brands IMB updates that the business is performing well with the tobacco business delivering a much stronger second half and volumes for the full year outperforming the industry. Revenue growth will remain in line with previous guidance.
Card Factory plc CARD describes its interim results for the half year to 31st July as “solid”. Online sales growth was strong but like for like sales fell by 3.1% hit by the usual disasters of a weak consumer environment, particularly challenging footfalls across the high street and those dreaded headwinds the effects of which are being mitigated through improved efficiency.Profit before tax and basic earnings per share grew by 17.2% and 17.1% respectively and the shareholders are of course being looked after with a special dividend of 5p per share on top of the maintained ordinary dividend of 2.9p.
Harvey Nash Group HVN has now substantially completed its transformation programme and despite a weaker market, produced a robust performance in the half year to the 31st July. Gross profit rose by 7.2% and on a like for like basis was even stronger with a rise of 11.1%. Profit before tax increased by 19.2% and earnings per share by 22.6%. The interim dividend is to be increased by 6.5% to 1.75p per share. All this, says the CEO, achieved in a challenging market with the UK business delivering a a robust performance and Vietnam performing strongly.
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
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.
Sainsbury J. SBRY slashes its final dividend by 18.5% for the year to 11th March, sees profit before tax fall by 8.2% and basic earnings per share by 26.8%. And the CEO has the cheek to trumpet it as a pivotal year with a clear growth strategy which has made significant progress. If it did have a clear growth strategy then it was one which obviously failed and management should have the courage to admit it.
Imperial Brands IMB at least remains on planet earth with its first half results, is raising its interim dividend by 10% and has a CEO who has found the time to invent a new language even if is is one which is unlikely to be understood by most of her employees, shareholders and board members. She appears pleased that it has a Market Repeatable Model deployed in e-vapour, and, best news of all, this is going to be used to drive growth in other “adjacencies”. As if that is not enough they are developing their footprint and “building blu” through investment.
As for the figures themselves, on a constant currency basis, total adjusted operating profit and earnings per share fell fell by 7.6% and 5.9% respectively. Obviously growth of adjacencies may be some time away.
ITV plc ITV announces that Adam Crozier is stepping down both from the board and as CEO, on the 30th June. No explanation is given for the suddenness of the departure. Indeed ITV seems to be pretending that just short of two month is not sudden at all but is long enough for it put in force its well developed succession plan, which is so well developed that they are having to take interim measures to fill the gap. Only “in due course” will a longer term successor be announced.
At least Paddy Power Betfair PPB has come out with figures, comment and details which make sense and are not hidden in obfuscation. First quarter revenue to the of March rose by 15% in constant currency terms, whilst underlying EBITDA was up by 83% and underlying operating profit by 117%. For a change punters at Cheltenham did not do at all well and were responsible for most of the quarters growth, although their fortunes changed for the better at other major sporting events in April.