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Pearson Abandons Profit Goal After Unprecedented Collapse in North America

Pearson PSON failed to stop the rot as its year end approached and Quarter 4 produced further unprecedented decline in its North American higher education business. Net revenue fell by 30% leading to an annual decline of 18% for the full year, again an unprecedented collapse. Despite this profits for 2016 are still expected to be in line but the operating profit goal for 2018 has been abandoned because of the continuing challenges and uncertainty in the North American market. From 2017 dividends are to be rebased.

MITIE Group MTO warns of underperformance in the cleaning division, a board meeting this week which lasted for two days whilst it considered the company’s problems and management changes which are now being implemented. Delays and deferrals by clients have added to the problems and means that income expected early in the year, will now be deferred until quarter 2017. Underlying operating profit for the year to 31st March is expected to fall to between 60 – 70m. pounds

Premier Foods PFD has been forced to issue a profit warning after weak third quarter sales which were down by 1% even after a strong December which saw a rise of 4.5%. Mince pies led the way with a 17% surge. With quarter 4 expected to see sales below expectations as a result of the continuance of challenging conditions, trading profit for the full year is now expected to be down by 10%.

FDM Group FDM Anticipates that results for the year to the end of December will be ahead of expectations, following a strong second half, combined with favourable exchange rates. 2016 revenue grew by over 34% on a constant currency basis.

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Vodafone Still Ringing Up Losses

Vodafone VOD is improving according to its preliminary results  for the year to 31st March, but could still do better. Perhaps improving its reputation for an attitude problem and poor customer service may help.

Second half like for like EBITDA grew by 3.6% compared to 2.7% for the full year. Adjusted operating profit fell by 30% but the basic loss per share fell to 15.08p compared to last years 169.3p. Adjusted earnings per share improved to a positive 5.04p compared to last years loss of 9.2p. Group revenue declined by 3%, Europe leading the way with a fall of 4.4%. Vodafone is rewarding shareholders for their loyalty with a rise of 2% in the final dividend.

Premier Foods PFD claims that it has built a strong platform for accelerating growth with branded sales flat and a 0.6% rise in full year group sales. The guidance for this anticipated growth is 2.4% but points out that they are operating in a deflationary market.Adjusted earnings per share for the year to 2nd April rose by 4.6%.

Compared to the figures for 15 months to April last year  the improvement has been significantwith a loss of 92.7m turned into a profit afte tax of 34m. and a basic loss per share of 12.7p transformed into a basic earnings per share of 4.1p. Operating profit has come in at  54.5m compared to last years loss of 44m.

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Premier Foods PFD Benefits From “Impactful Modern Pouch Format “

Premier Foods CEO Gavin Darby appears to have managed  to re write the English language and turn company jargon into an art form. The fact that nobody else uses it, many may not be able to understand it, seems to be an essential requirement for the busy CEO seeking to impress his board and the company shareholders with his ability to use nonsensical jargon. An inability to distinguish nouns, adjectives, verbs and adverbs becomes a definite advantage.

“Impactful” for example is defined as “A non-existent word coined by business drones to make their work sound far more useful, exciting and beneficial than it really is.”  It is on a list of 65 “buzzwords” use of which should be avoided.

Here are  more of Mr. Darby’s meaningly jargonful word formats;

He is pleased with the “quality of instore execution”

“Significantly more off shelf shipper display units” have been deployed

“double digit divisional contribution margins”

“delicious golden oaty snack pack cake slices”

Indeed so proud is Mr. Darby of his re creation of the English language that he uses some of these gems, not once but twice.

The best thing to do with today’s trading update is to ignore the jargon and go straight to the statistics where it becomes apparent that Mr. Darby’s management skills and his enthusiasm, far outweigh his English usability skillfulness..

Grocery sales for the 13 weeks to the 2nd January fell by 2.7% and without blinking an eye it is explained that this was due to the warmest December on record. Now that is a new one.  We have had companies blaming rain, snow, fog, floods, ice and snow for their sales being impactfully impacted but I can not remember a warm spell in December being management selected as the appropriate excuse to deploy for falling grocery sales. One must remember that in December there is the huge bonus of Christmas with the execution by Premier of 185 million mince pies, a rise of 8% on last year.  Not much sign of weather impact there.

On the international front Premier did well, with the quarters sales rising by 10%, a continuation of the second quarters performance.  Sweet Treats performed very strongly and this also is expected to continue, which is where those double digit divisional contribution margins come in.

And now for a taste of those golden oaty snack pack cake slices with my morning coffee.

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