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UK High Street – Not In Good Health ?

Image result for sainsbury logoSainsbury SBRY hs been forced to cut  its interim dividend by 14% to 3.1p. Despite all the hype about outperforming this and growing market share in challenging conditions etc etc, in the end it was forced to choose between sticking to its strict policy of paying an interim dividend  equal to 30% of the prior full year dividend or leaving it as it was, so it chose to cut. And looking at the figures that comes as no surprise. Underlying earnings per share and profit before tax fell by 22% and 9% respectively whilst on a statutory basis profit before tax slumped from 372m  to 220m and earnings per share collapsed by over 50% from 14.8 pence per share to 7.1p. The Group Chief Executive regards this as a good performance.  Like for like sales for the half year to 23rd September do provide a better picture with rise of 1.6% including fuel.

Image result for burberry logoBurberry Group BRBY is increasing its interim dividend by 10% after delivering a strong first half which double digit underlying profit growth of 17% after revenue growth of 4% on an underlying basis  and 9% reported. It is perhaps significant that Burberry has a strong international presence which will help to protect it from the ills afflicting British retailers.

Image result for national grid logoNational Grid NG maintained strong momentum in the US and continued to deliver a solid performance in the UK during the half year to 30th September. Despite all round falls in profit before tax, operating profit and earnings per share, which senior executives now seem to regard as an essential  before their company can be  described as a success, the interim dividend  is tweaked upwards by 2.1%.

Image result for halfords logoHalfords HFD also felt the effects of the abandonment of High Street shopping by the great British Public with its first half to the 29th September producing all round falls in underlying profit before tax (down 9.8%), basic earnings per share (down 10.8%) and underlying EBITDA (down 3.9). all of which taken together are seen as justification for increasing the interim dividend, in this case by 3%. The outlook for the full year remains unchanged they say, provided of course Christmas shoppers will abandon that nasty habit of shopping online and leave the comfort of their homes to endure huge traffic jams and all the other horrors of reality shopping in winter Britain.

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Mothercare Delivering at Last

Mothercare MTC The turnround in the UK is continuing apace with group underlying profit before tax up by 51% and statutory profit before tax of £9.7m, being the first after four years of losses.  Like for like UK sales rose by 3.6%

Internationally the picture is much blacker and having set the UK on a path to growth, the company is now turning its attention to the problems there and intends to export the lessons it has learned at home to bring recovery and profits back to the international side of the business. The aim is to become world leader in its markets and it is many a long year since anybody at Mothercare dared to even dream of that.

Thomas Cook Group TCG claims it  has fundamentally changed its attitude to its customers. Not before time many would say. This must be one of the best pieces of news to come out of the travel industry for years where customers seem to be regarded as a necessary evil.

It claims that group revenue for the half year to the end of March rose slightly whereas the figures seem to show that it actually fell – a minor matter in the world of TCG. Both operating loss and loss before tax showed good falls of 13% and 15% respectively.  excluding Turkey, summer bookings are up by 6%  or if you include Turkey they are down by 5% overall. Bookings for Spain are strong and the US is leading the way with a rose of 29%

Shanks Group SKS. Tough market conditions have not prevented both revenue and profit growth for the year to the end of March. The weak spot was the municipal division which was impacted by unspecified headwinds with the result that trading profit in that division was down 15%.

Trading profit rose by 4% and last years loss of £12.4m was turned into an operating profit of £9.8m and the previous basic loss per share of 4.6p was reduced to 1p. The loss after tax has been substantially reduced from £18.2m to a more acceptable £4m.  The company claims it has the vision, strategy and organisation, to deliver growth.

Mitchells & Butler MAB claims strong earnings growth for the half year to 9th April, with profit before tax growing to £83m from last years £75m. and earnings per share up from 14.4p to 18.4p.  Total revenue, however, was down by 1.5% and the company admits that there is much to do for it to acclerate its trading performance.

National Grid NG has had a strong year and is raising its dividend by 1.1%. Operating profit for the year to the end of March rose by 6%. profit before tax by 9% and earnings per share by 10%.

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