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Page Group plc PAGE delivered a record first quarter with gross profits up by 12.3% after strong global rises everywhere except for the UK where the fall of 7.1% illustrated the abysmal state of the UK economy. – sorry perhaps I should not have said that, the real excuse for the UK apparantly, was the timing of Easter which leaves one wondering how the Germans which share the same dates for Easter, came out top with a record quarter and growth of 28%.
Tesco plc TSCO announces another year of strong growth for 2017/18. Despite challenging market conditions profit before tax leaping by 769.7% from £145m. to £1.208bn.The year also produced the 9th consecutive quarter of growth and a final dividend of 2p per share is to be paid, making a total for the year of 3p. Group sales rose by 0.6% or 2.3% at actual exchange rates.
BCA Marketplace plc BCA updates that it has traded ahead of market expectations and the positive outlook referred to in Novembers interim results has continued. The outcome is that profits for the full year have grown strongly and net debt is lower than market expectations.
McCarthy & Stone plc MCS claims that underlying trading in the half year to the end of February remained resilient despite a substantial 15% rise in the average selling price from £260,000 to £298,000. Legal completions showed a fall of 12% and not surprisingly profit before tax did not look very healthy with a slump of 52% and earnings per share more than halving from 3.3p to 1.5p per share. Net debt more than doubled from £30.4m to £75.9m. The interim dividend is tweaked upwards but the best that could be afforded in the circumstances was a rise from 1.8p per share to 1.9p.
McCarthy & Stone plc MCS Despite trading in January and February having remained resilient MCS can not avoid sounding a bit worried in today’s update and is relying on trading being weighted towards the second half to help it recover from the first half where it had to rely for support on a large increase of 14% in the average selling price. . Its problem appears to be that even with such a whopping increase in average prices, it only managed to increase first half revenue by less than 1%, up from £238m. to £240m.. Basic maths would indicate that without the price rises, first half revenue could have fallen. It also admits that first half operating profit is likely to be in the order of about 12% of current market expectations for the full year. A further sign of the need for caution is that first half planning applications slumped from 34 to 21. Net debt for the full year is expected to have doubled from £30m. to £76m.One healthier sign is that the forward order book is up by 16% but of real concern is the impact which the proposed changes to ground rents will have on the company which is taking on the government in an attempt to ease that impact.
Just Eat plc JE. produced an excellent performance in 2017 with revenue rising by 30% on an organic basis. Despite that the company still made a statutory loss of £76m. despite 10.5m. active customers purchasing £1.9 billion pounds worth of food. International revenue rose by 75% and now amounts to 44% of the total. EBITDA rose by 42% and basic earnings per share by 38%. For 2018 EBITDA is expected to rise to between £165m and 185m.
Intertek Group plc ITRK is increasing its final dividend from 43p to 47.8p per share making a total increase of 14.3% or 2017. Adjusted profit before tax rose by 9.5% and diluted earnings per share by 10.4% at constant exchange rates.
Ashtead Group plc AHT continued to perform well in the third quarter to the end of January, with strong growth in each of its markets. Over the first nine months, profit before tax rose by18% on a statutory basis and by 24% on an underlying basis. Revenue increased by 20% and earnings per share by 130% on a statutory basis.
Barratt Developments BDEV Completions in the year to the 30th June rose by a lowly 0.4% on 2016 but it was still the highest volume for nine years, enabling Barratt to claim another excellent year which produced a strong operational and financial performance. The final dividend is being increased by 39% in addition to a 17.3p per share special dividend. Profit before tax rose by 12.1% and basic earnings per share by 11.3p. No mention is made this time round of what happened to the average house price but the tiny rise in completions produced a 9.4% rise in revenue, so perhaps that speaks for itself. The future still looks rosy with forward sales as at the 3rd September up by 13.8%.
McCarthy & Stone MCS managed to complete only 6 more sales in the year to the 31st August than it did in 2016 despite a strong recovery in the second half which saw a strong upward momentum in the average selling price, which is set to continue into the current year. For the year as a whole the average selling price rose by 3% and revenue by 4%. The forward order book at he year end was 21% head of last year.
Sports Direct SPD provides a trading update ahead of today’s much anticipated AGM. The only statistic provided is that underlying EBITDA for 2018 is expected to grow by between 5% and 15% which appears to indicate a certain amount of uncertainty amongst senior management as to the eventual outcome of the years trading. The company’s obsession with becoming the Selfridges of sport seems to continue and Mike Ashley admits it is their strategic goal and that in fact they are exceeding their expectations in moving towards it.
WANdisco WAND claims an outstanding performance in the six months to the 30th June with total bookings up by 73%, revenue by 71% and its first ever positive EBITDA of $0.3m. compared to last years first half loss of $4.5m. The result of this success is that the statutory operating loss fell from $17.9m to $3.8m. The order book is strong and the second half sales pipeline is gathering pace. Its latest Fusion version is claimed to have a broad appeal across multiple verticals, which presumably it regards as a good thing.
McCarthy & Stone MCS blames the referendum for its poor performance in the 6 month to 28th February but doesn’t even attempt to explain why it should have been so badly affected. On the face of it, the ludicrous explanation makes it look as if management is scrabbling round trying to find excuses for its own weakness. Revenue for the half year fell by 5%, completions were down by 6% and profit before tax slumped by 25%. Net debt surged nearly fivefold. Management is however, perhaps wisely, determined to look after shareholders and is maintaining its “progressive” dividend policy with a rise in the interim dividend of 80%.
The total order book over the last 5 weeks is now down only 1% on a year ago which the company describes as ( please try not to laugh at this ) “an increase in sales momentum”.
HSS Hire Group HSS is basically a tool hire business but it looks like management took its eye off the ball so that its core business in 2016 lacked both growth and momentum. The aim for 2017 is to try and restore that momentum. Revenue for the year to 31st December grew by 9.6% but on a statutory basis last years operating profit of £6.8m was turned into a loss of £2.7m and the reported loss before tax rose by some 25%, reflecting, the company says, a year of investment. As is proper in these circumstances, the dividend remained unchanged at 57p per share.
Gooch & Housego GHH reports good trading in the 6 months to 31st March, helped by positive market conditions and favourable currency movements. The order book is now 70% up on a year ago but this is reduced to 17.2% without the benefit of currency movements.
Telford Homes TEF has gone into built to rent in a big way. Now there is only one reason a housebuilder will do that, namely that building to sell has become less profitable. A stark warning if ever there was one, for the house building industry. record revenue and profits are forecast for the year to 31st March and profit before tax is expected to be slightly ahead of market expectations. The non prime London market remains robust. Taken as a whole, this is definately not the sort of news expected from housebuilders. And if buyers are leaving the housing market how long will it be before investors start doing the same. Hands up any one who knows what a de -risked forward sale is ? Its a rental ! You have been warned.
W.H. Smith SMWH claims a strong performance across the group for the 21 weeks to 21st January, presumably hoping that nobody will go as far as reading the actual figures which show that High Street revenue actually fell by 4% and only travel revenue with a 10% increase, saved the day enabling Smiths to show a like for like sales increase of 1% and a total increase of 2%. As a result of the success of the travel division, the group expects that profit growth for the group as a whole will be slightly ahead of plan.
Restaurant Group RTN admits to a catalogue of management failures which led to a fall of 5.9% in 4th quarter trading which continued to be challenging and compares badly with a decline of 3.9% over the 53 weeks to1st January. The decline is to be countered by improving its proposition and its operating processes, building a better business and delivering an attentive and engaging service, One can only hope that the people who failed to cope with the problems in 2016 will be able to deal with them in 2017, The first half of which is expected to be difficult and no improvement showing until towards the end of the year.
Koovs KOOV is enjoying another year of excellent growth with sales for the 9 months to 31st December showing a rise of 101% and traffic, registered users and social media all up by 100%. The success of its premium party dress collection which sold out in record time, 59% of it within three days of launch has left the company excited about prospects for 2017
McCarthy & Stone MCS saw legal completions for the 20 weeks to the 20th January fall by 2% compared to the previous year as a result of a lower forward order book and a slight slowing in sales momentum since results were announced on the 15th November. Year to date reservations are currently running ahead and are expected to bring in an extra 5% revenue, due to price increases. Profit before tax for 2017 will be more than usually weighted towards the second half.
Staffline Group STAF is increasing its final dividend by 29% after a year of strong organic growth which saw a rise in revenue of 26%. Underlying profit before tax rose by 30% and undiluted earnings per share by 23%. The company’s success means that it has increased its market share “more than ever”.