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Ian Pollard – #WPP Impacted By Client Losses.

WPP plc WPP a company with the spectre of its founder still lurking in the background is never a happy place to be. Naturally Sir Martin does not get a mention in WPP’s third quarter results but the way in which the company’s business has been impacted in many fields after his sudden departure, does get a mention and repeatedly so. The finger points in only one direction, Third quarter like for like revenue less pass through costs fell by 5.3% compared to 3.3% in the second quarter, as client losses continued to grow. Having seen second quarter growth of 1.4% in the UK, quarter three produced a fall of 2%. Most sectors were impacted by client losses as major global companies continued to desert in increasing numbers.

Strong regional differences  made for a patchy performance with Australia and New Zealand doing well. A similar story appeared in company sectors with a strong deterioration in advertising and media management, once the heartland of the WPP empire.One suspects that it will take some time for the spectre to be exorcised.

Aveva Group plc AVV updates that  it continued to perform well during the first half of its financial year. and delivered low double digit revenue growth on a constant currency basis. A number of contracts were brought forward into the first half.

Elementis plc ELM delivered a resilient overall third quarter performance, although the CEO is less expressive and prefers to be more down beat by describing it as “solid”. Nonethless even he admits they are excited as the integration of their latest acquisition, Mondo Minerals, commences.

Eckoh plc ECK has seen strong progress in both UK and US orders in the half year to the end of September. In the US it has already exceeded in in the first half the total contract value of $9.3m for US Secure Payments it achieved in in the whole of 2018. In the UK, it has seen excellent progress in contract wins and as in the US, the total value of new contracts won in in the first half has exceeded the total won in  2018.

1PM plc OPM updates prior to today’s AGM that in the first four months of the current year it has experienced a continuing robust level of demand. The strong trading has continued into October.

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Brand CEO Alan Green talks Andalas Energy #ADL, European Metals #EMH, Cadence #KDNC, 1PM #OPM & LPA Group #LPA on Vox Markets podcast

Brand CEO Alan Green talks Andalas Energy #ADL, European Metals #EMH, Cadence #KDNC, 1PM #OPM & LPA Group #LPA with Justin Waite on the Vox Markets podcast. Interview starts at 24 minute 45 seconds.

Ian Pollard – Whitbread #WTB UK Decline Turned Into “Growth”

Whitbread plc WTB tries to put a brave face on its first quarter results by headlining sales growth and expansion and ignoring the unhappy reality. The truth is that growth  is due to investment in new hotels and new Costa stores. On a like for like basis the quarter has been, to put it politely, uncomfortable, with falls in every division led believe it or not by Costa the former  jewel in the  crown, now looking a bit tarnished with a fall of 2%. Total group “UK growth” should be renamed total UK decline with the like for like group total down by 1.3%. Fortunately the  fairly blatantly misleading headlines are unlikely to mislead many.

Ultra Electronics ULE expects that the half year performance and revenue will be broadly in line with the exception of Herley which management  appears to have allowed to be impacted by cost overruns on development contracts.  Although some recovery is expected in the second half and the order book at the end of May was strong it is expected that the problems at Herley will result in full year operating profit being reduced by £4m to £6m. The new CEO says he is excited by what he has seen presumably referring to the fact that the brakes have been taken off US defence spending, a matter which outside his and the company’s control.

IWG plc IWG There is not mny sign of excitement at IWG where group operating profit for 2018 is expected to be £15. to £20m. below management expectations.  The UK business is not performing as management was expecting despite strong trends in global sales activity. In order to strengthen its position IWG proposes to increase new space by 45% which as is usual in these circumstances, will bring with it extra short term losses

1pm plc OPM Results for the year are expected to show record year on year increases in revenue and profits. Revenue has risen by 0ver 75% of which more than 30% was organic and basic earnings per share rose by more than 20%. The CEO claims that the figures illustrate the success of the company’ buy and build strategy over the past three years during which it has completed seven acquisitions which has

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Ian Pollard – Savills becomes a ‘Residential Transaction Business Operator’.

Savills plc SVS no longer has estate agencies in the UK. They have gone posh, moved up market and now describe themselves as operating residential transaction businesses. That really will send the share price rocketing. Whatever they call themselves they have experienced a stronger than anticipated finish to the year, with the UK proving resilient in achieving year on year revenue growth in challenging markets. Asia. Pacific and continental European transactional businesses have performed ahead of expectations  and underlying results for the year to 31st December will be ahead of previous expectations.

Dunelm Group DNLM Quarter 2 and second half sales provide further evidence of the rise and rise of online sales and the decline and fall of old fashioned store sales. Dunelm continued to gain market share in the six months to the 30th December with total revenue rising by 13.6% in the second quarter and 18.4% over the half year. The star performer was however like for like online sales with rises of 30.5% and 36.8% respectively, compared to a lowly 1.1% for quarter two like for like store sales. The writing is well and truly on the wall, with online sales now accounting for 16% of total sales.

JD Sports Fashion JD Headline profit before tax for the year to the 3rd February will now be about 300m., slighty above previous expectations. Positive levels of performance have continued throughout the second half and like for like store sales, including Europe have grown by 3.3%, with further growth coming from online sales and  expansion in overseas selling space.

Greggs plc GRG Fourth quarter trading was particularly favourable and provided the 17th consecutive quarter of like for like sales growth. Like for like sales in company managed shops rose by 3.7%. As at the 31st December Greggs had 1854 shops open and will increase the rate new shop openings in 2018 from last years 131. Industry wide cost pressure are expected to ease in 2018 but the customer environment is still seen as uncertain and emphasis will continue to be placed on what the company describes as providing outstanding customer value.

1PM PLC OPM Group revenue for the six months to the 30th November rose by 74% and profit before tax by 77% of which 34% was organic, as the group’s stated strategy proved to be successful.

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Ian Pollard – Mulberry Strategy Fails To Impress

Mulberry MUL claims it is delivering on its strategy, in which case it should perhaps get a new one. Retail sales for the half year to the 30 September rose by 2% but on a like for like basis they fell by 1% with both UK and International retail sales sliding. Demand from London tourists was said to be strong but the UK as a whole was uncertain. The loss before tax at £0.5m. was almost identical to last years £0.6m. The long term objective is said to be to grow Mulberry as a luxury global brand. That is what most people always thought it was. The lack of growth and mundane performance cast doubts

Saga plc SAGA as soon as one sees that a company has been reduced to using those two dreaded words “impacted” and “headwinds” you know that there’s trouble at mill and Saga is no exception. With only between 1 and 2% growth in underlying profit before tax expected for the current year to 31st January 2018, the growth forecast for next year is that underlying profit before tax will be down by about 5% despite strong trading in travel which will be outweighed by challenging trading conditions in insurance broking and the collapse of Monarch Airlines.

Easy Hotel plc EZH  The year to 30th September was a year of strong progress with a 39% rise in revenue and 48.3% in adjusted EBITDA.  The costs of an expanding development programme or “pipeline” as those with a preference for jargon, would call it, resulted in a 21.1% drop in profit before tax and 50% in earnings per share. The dividend remains unchanged at0.33p per share.

Oxford Metrics OMG is delighted with its strong performance in the year to 30th September and the final dividend is to be increased by 20% to 1.2p per share after adjusted profit before tax came in ahead of market expectations following the planned investment in Yotta.. Like for like group revenue was up by 10% or 7% on a constant currency basis.

1PM PLC OPM updates that revenue for the half year to the 30th November will show a 73% rise and profit before tax will increase by 70%. The strong trading momentum has continued and is consistent with market expectations for the full year to the end of May.

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JD Sports On Track For More Records

JD Sports (JD.) has produced yet another record set of half year results, with strong growth in the six months to 29th July producing a 41% rise in revenue. Profit before tax was up by 33% and the interim dividend is to be increased by 4%. Sales in the second half have continued at the same level and it is anticipated that year end figures will be towards the upper end of market expectations.

1PM plc OPM The year to 31st May was one of strong organic and strategic growth, continuing the trend of recent years. Revenue rose by 35% and profit before tax and exceptionals by 17%. Basic earnings per share were up by 4%. Robust levels of demand were experienced in all the company’s trading subsidiaries. A proposed dividend of 5% is proposed on the 83.8m shares currently issued compared to last years 52.5m.

Ashtead Group AHT produced another strong set of results for the first quarter to 31st July with revenue at constant exchange rates rising by 17% and both profit before tax and earnings per share by 21%.

Futura Medical FUM claims that excellent progress was made with MED 2002 in the first half of 2017 and a phase III study is now expected to start in the first half of 2018. Discussions with potential licensees have have already started. CSD500 has been successfully launched in the Middle East. First half losses fell from £1.89m to £1.5m as R&D expenditure on MED2002 was reduced.

AA plc (AA.) has admitted that yesterdays speculation was correct and that in early summer it did have preliminary discussions with Hastings about combining its insurance business with that of Hastings.

Tasty plc TAST experienced a weak trading environment in the 6 months to the 2nd July, with pressure on sales and margins forcing it to to take decisive action to improve its position. Despite an 11.8% rise in half year revenue, like for like sales actually declined and profit before tax slumped from £1,615,000 in 2016 to just £210,000. Challenging conditions, it claims, have been recognised, under performing sites have been identified, some are in the process of being disposed of and others placed on the market.

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Ocado – English As A Foreign Language

Ocado Group OCDO got so bogged down in jargon in its half year results to the 28th May that one can easily believe they must have done it deliberately purely to show how clever they are compared to those of us who can only speak ordinary English which everybody else understands. Thus the report is stuffed with platforms, channel shift to online advances. store pick capabilities and other nonsense. Perhaps lack of basic English is becoming a requisite for a senior management position.

As for the results themselves they show a 12.5% rise in revenue because of the strength of its customer offer, a 2.7% increase in gross margins and investment in its platform. The result of all this is an 18.1% fall in profit before tax, as a result of higher depreciation. Active customers during the half year rose by 600,000 but significantly the value of their average basket fell by 1.4%. There are signs that price deflation has begun to ease and management sees that as a possible opportunity for increasing profits, a view which explains why Sainsbury took over as King of the High Street with its results yesterday.

Persimmon PSN claims that its trading performance for the half year to 30th June has been excellent, with legal completions up by 8%. The increase in the average selling price was somewhat restrained at only 3.5% but with over £1 billion of cash swilling around in its coffers it can perhaps afford to show a bit more generosity towards its customers as well as to its shareholders. Mortgage interest rates remain compelling and consumer confidence is seen as resilient. as for the second half forward sales are up by 18%

1PM plc OPM has experienced strong levels of demand and trading results for the year to 31st May are expected to show further strong growth with profit before tax up by 28%, marginally ahead of expectations and revenue by 34%, in line with expectations


Booker Group BOK enjoyed a good first quarter for th 12 weeks to 1st June with non tobacco like form like sales rising by 9.6% and like for like tobacco sales down 7.9%. The competition process for its proposed merger with Tesco, continues.

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Royal Mail Drowns in Jargon

Royal Mail plc RMG How can any company be taken seriously when its CEO’s English appears to be so bad that she has to express herself in internal company jargon – thus ones breakfast reading of the goings on at Royal Mail includes – “movements in foreign exchange, ASM and GSO in GLS” Can the Board not send her for re training so that she can speak the same language as the rest of the country.

More jargon follows with the update for the 9 months to the end of December claiming 9% growth in GLS and a 2% decline in PIL. Is that good or bad, one must ask oneself. Parcel revenue rose by 3% whilst letter revenue was down by 5% as overall business uncertainty continued to affect letter volumes in the UK.

Chemring Group CHG appears to have rebounded from 2015’s problems and turned last years loss of £9.1m into a profit of £8m. for the year to 31st October. Earnings per share came in at 2.5p after last years loss of 2.4p. whilst total evenue for the year rose by 26.5% and operating profit soared from £5.5m to £ 26.2m.

Finsbury Food Group FIF suffered from flat sales in the in the 6 months to the 30th November, with the bakery division down by 2.9% as the UK retail market continued to suffer from price deflation. In contrast the European division which is 50% owned by FIF rose by 31.7%. Sterling induced commodity inflation and increases in the national living wage are expected to lead to cost inflation in the second half.

1 PM PLC OPM  continued to experience high levels of demand in each of its three subsidiaries for the half year 30th November. Revenue rose by 52%, profit before tax by 23% and basic earnings per share rose from 2.91% to 3.08%

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Halfords – Massaging The Figures ?

Halfords Group HFD will in future issue its summer trading up date for a period of 20 weeks because it will help to make the figures look better. So this years update is issued in two parts, the first for the 13 weeks of quarter one and then the next 7 weeks trading to the 19th August. Thus the 20 weeks figures benefit from the strong trading which the company gets in July and August once the school holidays start at the beginning of July. Pity when a company becomes so desperate to try and improve its image that its management sees the need to resort to practices like that.

The 7 week figures were generallyquite strong except for motoring and especially car enhancement which were down 4.2% over 13 weeks and 3.3% over the 7 week period. Group cycling figures really illustrate how the change affects the figures. Cycling sales rose by 12.5% in the 7 weeks to 19th August after falling by 4% in the first quarter but those strong 7 week sales mean that Halfords can show a 20 week rise of 11%.  Overall 20 week revenue rose by 4.8% or 1.2% on a like for like basis. Service related sales were very strong rising by 13.9% over the 20 weeks. The company describes the 20 week performance as solid, whereas the 13 weeks figures appear to have been far less so.

Redrow RDW Delivered its third consecutive year of record results and is rewarding shareholders with a 67% rise in the full year dividend. New homes completed during the year to the 30th June rose by17%, revenue by 20% and profit before tax by 23%

1pm plc OPM
has enjoyed a year of strong strategic and organic growth in both revenue and profit and is increasing its final dividend by 43%. Like for like revenue to the end of May rose by 45% and group profit before tax more than doubled from £1.6m to £3.7m

Gear4music G4M Overall profitability for the 6 months to 31st August will be ahead of expectations after the company produced overall sales growth of 73% which included a surge in Europe of 169%. A European distribution centre  is to be opened in Sweden and expected to be operational by the 31st Aug

Ashmore Group ASHM Net revenue for the year to the end of June fell by 18% and profit before tax by 8%. A final dividend of 12.1% is to be paid


Learning Technologies LTG is raising its interim dividend by 40% following a 52% rise in revenue for the half year to the end of June and a 145% rise in EBITDA. The company says that it is making strong progress in its strategic ambition to become a diversified international business.

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Our Leaders Exposed As They Abandon Ship

Who would have thought on Referendum Day, that within two weeks the whole of the country’s political leadership would, with one exception, have scuttled off caring not whether their country needed them and their years of experience in domestic and world affairs. To a man they admitted to being men of straw, without moral fibre or backbone, liars, convincing or unconvincing and ready to betray both their ideals and their colleagues at the drop of a hat.  These two weeks, even without Chilcot, have proved to be two of the most shameful weeks ever seen in British political life.

Leaders who one minute claimed they were irreplacable in solving the challenges which the country faced, suddenly ran off abandoning it, its people and their own professed ideals and beliefs.

The only person who comes out of the last two weeks with his integrity unimpaired, appears to be, believe it or not, Jeremy Corbin, abandoned by the whole of his shadow cabinet seeking only to save what they saw as their political futures by doing a hatchet job on him. Now it is they who are without a political future. How they must wish, now that their bluff has been called and it is they who have entered the political wasteland, that they had remained loyal.

As for Cameron,  Mervyn King did the best hatchet job which has been seen for many a decade. Therein lies the advantage of the mild mannered man  who does not need to shout, bawl and bully his way through life. Yesterdays interview saw King in a polite, quiet and very professional manner, carve Cameron, his former boss, into little pieces and expose him fully for what he is. To do so without even raising his voice made it all the more devastating.

Our former leaders have left the ship of state rudderless in stormy seas.  They alone are responsible for the collapse of sterling and, worst of all, they do not care. They have proved to the electorate that they were basically untrustworthy and irrelevant.  Next time, the electorate, must do better


1pm plc OPM Adjusted profit before tax for the year to the 31st May will be materially above current market expectations after a year of strong organic growth in both revenue and profit.

Churchill China CHH part of one of the UK’s world beating industries updates that it has enjoyed strong growth across the business as a whole for the half year to 30th June.

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