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NEXT- Another Special Dividend As Decline Continues

NEXT plc NXT does not expect any recovery during the remainder of the current financial year despite second quarter full price sales having risen by 0.7% compared to the first quarter when they were down 3%. Retail sales for the half year to 29th July were down by 7.4% whereas Directory sales rose by 11.4% but shareholders are being kept happy with another 45p per share special dividend to be paid on the 1st November. . The forecast for the full year to January 2018 is that the decline in profit before tax will remain unchanged from previous guidance at between -13.9% to -6.4%. The problem seems to be half year and end of year sales which act as a drag on the total sales performance.

Aviva plc AV is increasing its interim dividend by 13% after the fourth consecutive year of growth in half year operating profit, this time by 11%. Sales have increased across the group with strong growth in Europe and the UK.

Centamin CEY Gold production in the second quarter rose by 14% over the first half but is still down on last year and whilst profit before tax rose from the first quarters level, for the half year as a whole it is only just over half of last years figure, at $38m. Production costs at US$609 per oz were also well up on last years figure of US$461. Nonetheless the interim dividend is increased by 25% to 2.5 US cents per share and the second half is expected to be strong with full year production guidance of 540 oz. being maintained.

Portmeirion Group PMP produced an 18% rise in profit before tax for the half year to the 30th June and gives itself a very restrained pat on the back, describing its performance as “positive”. Revenue rose by 16%, EBITDA by27% and earnings per share by 21%. The interim dividend is to be increased by 5.7%.

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Solid trading from Aveva and Fenner – yet another placing from blur Group

AVEVA Group AVV reports a solid start to the financial year and expects the phasing of revenue in FY 2018 to be broadly similar to the prior year. The full year outlook remains in line with board expectations.

blur Group BLUR announces yet another placing to raise a minimum of £1.5m (before expenses) at 1.75 pence per Ordinary Share.

Dunelm DNLM provides a year end trading update, and says total Q4 revenue rose by 17.7% to £240.0m, with total like-for-like growth (combining LFL stores and Home Delivery) up 3.8%. CEO John Browett said the Worldstores acquisition “will provide a massive leap forward to our online and store offer that we think our customers will love.”

Fenner FENR updates on trading and continues to make strong progress, principally in new product development, augmented by a further increase in the US rig count. Cash flow during the period has remained in line with expectations and, on the basis of the improved outlook, most notably in the medical businesses, the Board anticipates that the Group’s operating profit for the financial year ending 31 August 2017 will be comfortably ahead of its previous expectations, with the added benefit of a reduced interest charge going forward.

Portmeirion PMP says total Group sales are up 16% for the six months ended 30 June 2017 relative to the same period last year, and it continues to expect profit before tax to be in line with market expectations for the full year.

Scholium Group SCHO the rare books and art company reported full year revenues of £6.12m (2016: £6.74m) and an adjusted operating loss of £224k (2016: £24k profit). Although the result was poor, Scholium recorded a turnaround to profitability during H2 once the uncertainty around the UK Referendum lifted. Following cost savings, CEO Jasper Allen said Scholium was now “well-placed to deliver a positive outcome.”

China’s Record Growth Continues

There seems to be no stopping the UK’s two leading china manufacturers, Portmerion (PMP) whose  preliminary 2015 results are announced today and Churchill China (CHH), whose preliminaries are due on the 24th March.

2015 was Portmeirion’s 7th consecutive year of record growth with group revenue up by 11.9% and profit before tax at an all time high after a rise of 13.6p. Total dividends for 2015 are to be increased by 13.2% to 30p. making an average annual increase of 10.7% over each of the last 7 years.  cash balances for the year nearly doubled to £11.1m.

2016 has started well with the first two months ahead of last year.

Portmeirion’s leading brands are well know household names, Spode, Royal Worcester, Portmeirion and Pimpernel. Its two main markets are the US and the UK, which together account for nearly 60% of sales, whilst the company accepts that the EU is virtually unexploited, producing only 3% of total sales. The only market to suffer a slowdown was S. Korea where the company has been entrenched for 20 years but saw fall due to weakness in the economy.

The shares have shown exceptional strength so far this year having risen from 933p to 1081p. Over the past 7 years they have shown continuous growth from 110p in 2009, save for a blip in 2011. This morning the share price has added another 50p to 1130p in response to the results

Churchill China announced in a trading update in January that trading in the second half year had been ahead of earlier expectations with the levels of growth achieved in the first six months of 2015 being sustained in the second half year. The Board expected that operating performance will be ahead of current market estimates and well ahead of 2014.

Churchill’s share price has climbed from 517p on the 25th August to today’s 757p, a rise of nearly 50% in just over 6 months.

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Bulls In China Shops – Smashing Success Stories

Churchill China (CHH) has announced that its operating performance for 2015 will be ahead of market estimates and well ahead of 2014. Second half trading has been ahead of earlier expectations.

Churchill has been growing strongly in recent years. Since 2010 profit before tax has more than doubled and basic earnings per share have risen  from 14p to 31.2p.

In 2015 first half profit before tax rose by 12% and the interim dividend was raised by 10% to 5.6p.

The share price closed yesterday at 740p having risen from 586p a year ago and have risen strongly this morning to 817p

2015 results are due on the 24th March

Another success amongst the china manufacturers is Portmeirion (PMP) whose final results are due later this month. At the half way stage profit before tax was up by 45% and earnings per share by 41%. Production at the Stoke on Trent factory was running at record levels and the second half started with a strong order book.

The shares now stand at 940p compared to a low of 870p a year ago.

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