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Ian Pollard – AA lifted by potholes & exceptional weather

AA plc AA claims it is well positioned to return to growth from 2019 and that a revenue rise .of 2% reflects a solid performance especially in what it  calls “roadside.”.  The real reason for roadsides strength was exceptional weather conditions  for which even the AA dare not claim credit, as it benefited from extreme cold and snow in February and March to the hottest summer in recent memory. The severe winter created a pothole ‘epidemic’ and led to a 15 year high in the number of breakdowns it serviced. Despite the support of the weather gods, profit before tax for the six month to the 31st July collapsed by 65% and basic earnings per share by 64%, a financial performance which the company claims was in line with expectations.Hopefully management will be able  ensure that 2019 return to growth, actually happens, irrespective of the weather.

SSP Group SSPG updates that for the period from the 1st July to the 30th September like for like sales continuing at the same level as in quarter three. Full year like for like sales grwoth is expected to be unchanged at between 2% and 3%.

PZ Cussons PZC updates that Europe and Asia are continuing to perform well, whilst improvement in Africa will largely be dependent on the macro environment in Nigeria during the remainder of the year. The UK Washing and Bathing Division is enjoying good growth in its three main brands.

Futura Medical FUM has made excellent progress in the six months to the 30th June, at least according the CEO, as last years first half net loss of £1.6 grew to 1.95m. The first patient dosing of MED2002 the company’s breakthrough erectyle disfunction gel, is expected next month in the first Phase 3 trial in Europe. The company is excited about this No comment is made about the patient’s state of mind. aa 

Boohoo Group plc BOO produced another strong performance in the six months to the 31st August and delivered record sales and profits. Sales jumped by 50%, profit before tax rose by 22% and adjusted EBITDA by 43%. Sales growth of at least 25% per annum is forecast for the medium term. For the full year to the 28th February 2019 revenue growth is expected to be 38% to 43%, up from previous guidance of 35% to 40%.

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Ian Pollard: Aveva In Either A Profit Or Loss Situation – You Choose

Aveva Group AVV There are now so many ways of calculating profits that the figures have become almost meaningless and companies have the freedom to chose between  profit before tax, on a diluted, adjusted, normal or  statutory basis and the difference between these four can be and often are enormous. Companies can elect the headline for their results as ranging from a whopping loss to a thumping big profit. For the year to the 31st March Aveva has chosen to present them on a combined basis which shows an 8.6% rise in revenue and profits slumping by 34.3% unless you prefer the statutory figure with a rise of 8.8% or, even better, a rise of 23.3% on an adjusted basis. Thus Chairman and CEOs are left with complete freedom as to how they can best describe the company’s performance. Aveva decides the year as being transformational and promises that the years ahead are going to be even more exciting. Nobody can agree or disagree with these comments when all we know is that the company is either making a loss, or if not, then it is making a profit.

Majestic Wine WINE returned to profit and describes itself as making headway in headwinds in the year to the 2nd April. Last years loss of 1.5m was turned into a profit of 8.3m, with Naked Wines, where sales rose by 11.8%, being the key driver. UK retail remained challenging. Reported revenue rose by 2.3% but the final dividend reflects the transformation into profit with a rise  from 3.6p to 5.2p. More important for the future is the fact that 20% of the business is now in the growth markets of the US and Australia.

PZ Cussons PZC has given plenty of notice of the bad times from which it is suffering in Nigeria and the UK and it now updates that trading in both these countries has continued to be difficult, with Nigeria actually getting worse. In other markets results have been robust and profit before tax for the full year is now expected to just scrape into the bottom end of the previously forecast range. Still worrying though to see how many of these household name companies are being dragged down by poor UK performances.

NWF Group NWF updates that it has delivered an outstanding performance, especially in fuels in the year to the end of May. Trading has been significantly ahead of both current market expectations and the previous year.


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Ian Pollard – Momentous year for Cineworld #CINE

Cineworld CINE found 2017 to be not only exciting but also the most momentous since its foundation in 1995 as it once again produced record results and took the first steps towards turning itself into the second largest cinema chain in the world with the acquisition of Regal entertainment Group for $3.4bn. This was a transformational acquisition, now completed, which gave it a total of over 9,500 screens. Profit before tax rose by 22.7% and basic earnings per share by 18.7% enabling the full year cash dividend to be increased by 14.5% plus a final rights adjusted dividend of 3.1p er share.

Savills plc SVS delivered a strong and improved performance in 2017 and is raising dividends for the year by a total of 4% to to 30.2p per share. Group revenue rose by 11% and on a statutory basis profit before tax increased by 13% and basic earnings per share by 20%. The strength is attributed  to the resilience of the residential market, geographical diversity and strength in key commercial markets.

Kier Group KIE is increasing its interim dividend for the six months to the 31sr December by 2% after an 8% rise in revenue, 3% in basic earnings per share and 4% in profit before tax.  The good performance is claimed to reflect the strength of the business model coupled with financial and operational discipline. Double digit profit growth is expected for 2018.

PZ Cussons PZC Following January’s announcement that first half trading performance in the UK and Nigeria had been constrained, things have not improved and a warning has had to be issued that full year profit will now fall short of expectations and profit before tax will be in the region of 80 to 85 million pounds. Despite the continuation of low consumer confidence and high competition in most of the company’s markets, a return to profitable growth is forecast for the following year.

Portmeirion Group PMP produced its ninth consecutive year of  record group revenue in the year to 31st December and is celebrating with an increase of 7.5% in full year dividends. Profit before tax rose by 13%, basic earnings per share by by 9.2% and  revenue. by 10.6%. The success is attributed to strong growth and diversification in export markets.

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Ian Pollard – Filtronic Interim Profit Halved

Filtronic FTC has seen its strategy result in new contract wins but too late to prevent the first half turning into something of a disaster.. Revenue for the 6 months to the 30th November plunged from £21.6m to £12.8m and operating profit halved to £0.9m. The second half is not expected to be any better and no further growth is seen until 2019

Dominos Pizza DOM Trading performance was boosted by 43 net new store openings in quarter 4 compared to a record 95 for the full year. Organic revenue for the quarter rose by 10.1% as against 8.9% for the full year. The UK demonstrated its resilience in what is described as a challenging and competitive environment with like for like sales rising by 6.1% compared to 4.8% for the full year. Underlying profit before for the year is anticipated to be slightly above current market expectations.

PZ Cussons plc PZC Like for like revenue for the half year to the 30th November rose by 3.3% but that was not enough to prevent a 14.1% fall in adjusted profit before tax. Strong profitability in Asia was offset by reduced margins in parts of Europe and in Africa. The performance was underpinned by a strong and innovative product pipeline  and profitability is expected to improve in he second half as a result of new product launches and distribution expansion.

Safestay SSTY performed strongly in 2017, both in the UK and in Europe as interest in hostel accommodation rose to record  levels.Total revenue for the year to 31st December rose by 43% with the UK enjoying a 15% rise. Occupancy rates at the hostel at Kensington Holland Park grew by 32% during the year and a series of acquisitions in 2017 took the number of beds from 1526 to 2306 with a  further 330 still to come.

UBM plc UBM expects the full year out turn and adjusted operating profit to be ahead of expectations and a final dividend of 18p per share will be paid   making a year on year dividend increase of 6.8%. Fourth quarter trading was ahead of expectations and event revenue growth of at least 5% is expected, taking group revenue for the year to 31st December to above the 1 billion mark

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Ian Pollard – Sports Direct Hit By UK High Street Woes

Sports Direct Intl SPD Mike Ashley claims a spectacular trading performance during the half year to the 29th October which is hardly justified by the reality of the situation, namely a fall  of 1% in UK sports retail revenue or 1.2% on a like for like basis. So, he limits his claim to the trading performance in his flagship stores, of which they are going to open more. If his flagship stores are doing so well it makes the the rest of UK retail look even more gloomy. Gross margins in the UK fell by 80bps compared to a rise of 110bps for international retail. Group revenue for the half year rose by 4.7% which again only serves to illustrate how bad trading in UK high streets and shopping malls has become. Underlying profit before tax is, he claims, healthy with a rise of 22.9% although on a reported basis it fell by 67.3%. Underlying earnings per share were up by 32.9% as against a fall of 68.6% on a reported basis.

Ocado Group OCDO Sales growth was impacted during the quarter to the 3rd December, by a lack of capacity and especially a shortage of drivers. Average orders per week rose by 50% during the quarter, whilst the average order size remained stable.

PZ Cussons plc PZC Cautious consumers have created tough conditions and adversely affected performance in the half year to the 30th November with the result that profit for the half year is expected to be 10% lower than in the previous period, despite strong profitability in Asia, which has been offset by Africa and Europe. A robust and innovative pipeline has helped to underpin the first half and it is expected that the out turn for the full year, will be broadly in line .

Advanced Medical Solutions AMS updates on trading to the 31st December and confirms that it is continuing to deliver strong organic growth. Revenue and profit are,anticipated to be in line with current market expectations.

Bunzl BNZL Group revenue for the year to 31st December is expected to have risen by 15%, or 9-10% at constant exchange rates, as expected at the time of the October trading statement.



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Corporate news review Wednesday 27th September 2017

boohoo.com BOO reports adjusted interim EBITDA up 68% at £27.8m on revenues up 106%. BOO has a strong balance sheet with net cash of £119.2m and raises FY guidance.

Defenx DFX reports increased H1 operating losses of €1.31m (1H16: €296,000) on revenues up 35% to €3.13m. DFX says there may be an adverse effect on revenues and profits in the short term, but remains confident that it has the right strategy to maximise revenues and profits in the medium and long term.

Entertainment One ETO anticipates FY financial performance will be in line with management expectations with a similar H1/H2 weighting to FY17. EBITDA is anticipated to be around 1.2x at the end of the FY18 financial year, in line with guidance given when the Group reported its FY17 full year results.

Hotel Chocolat Group HOTC reports FY revenues up 12% at £105.2m, with underlying EBITDA up 32% to £16.3m. PBT rose 100% to £11.2m driven by strong sales growth across retail, digital & corporate channels. Given the encouraging performance of retail and internet channels, along with the pipeline of opportunities ahead, the group are confident of further growth.

Halma HLMA says it has made good progress in line with expectations. Cash generation was good and the Group’s financial position remains strong.

PZ Cussons PZC says despite tough trading conditions in Q1 it remains on track to deliver full year growth in operating profits with performance underpinned by a robust and innovative product pipeline and tight control of costs.

Domino’s Claims Record Progress

Domino’s Pizza DOM The half year to the 25th June was another good period with record progress in the UK, despite the UK consumer having become more cautious about the economic climate. Underlying profit before tax rise by 9.1% with basic earnings per share up by 9.9% and the interim dividend increased by by 7.1% to 3.75p. 90 openings are expected during the year. Net debt rose nearly six fold from 10.9m to 61m

Croda International CRDA is increasing its interim dividend for the six months to 30th June by 6.9% after a rise in sales of 16.2%, driven by continued organic growth across all core business sectors and maintained margins. On a constant currency basis the rise was 3.8%. Adjusted profit before tax rose by 14.3% (4.4% on a constant currency basis) and basic earnings per share by 18.2%

Victoria plc VCP Despite another record year which saw profit before tax surge by 102% Victoria has decided that it will again not pay a final dividend, so that it can use the money to reduce debt. During the year to the 1st April  four earnings accretive acquisitions were successfully completed  leading to a 29% rise in revenue and a 92% rise in basic earnings per share. The company states that shareholders may not truly understand the enormous scope for growth which exists both in the UK and Europe. Victoria intends to take full advantage of this by continuing to make further acquisitions where the price justifies the investment.

PZ Cussons plc PZC produced a solid performance for the year to 31st May with what it describes as a solid set of results. The dividend is to be increased by 2.18% making this the 44th consecutive year on year increase.On a constant currency basis revenue fell by 0.9%, profit before tax rose by 1.7% and adjusted basic earnings per share were down by 2.2%. Despite consumer confidence in most markets remaining fragile,  Cuzzons say it is well placed to meet full year expectations.

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PZ Cussons Beaten By An Expected Backdrop of Challenges

PZ Cussons PZC produces one of the strangest apologias for a bad performance, seen in recent months. It faced, they claim, a backdrop full of challenges across most of the markets where they operate and as these were expected, the bad results present a solid performance.

What is the logic or thinking behind that, one must ask. If they knew about the forthcoming challenges, the Board had time to prepare for them. That is what directors are supposed to be there for. The results indicate that they failed  so instead they blame macro economic conditions, especially in Nigeria for their bad performance. Tough unspecified trading conditions in Australia also get some of the blame but the board seems lost for an explanation as to why they failed there, so does not even attempt to give one.

The Washing and Bathing division in the UK did put in a robust performance but the Beauty Division had a poor summer. Presumably as Brexit  began to loom UK ladies decided that they would leave the EU clean but ugly.

The results for the half year to the 30th November speak for themselves with profit before tax down by 37.8% and basic earnings per share down by 32%.  In the opinion of the Board this merits an increase in the interim dividend of 2.3% which also speaks for itself and for the attitude of the Board.

EasyJet EZJ claims a solid performance in the quarter to 31st December but clearly appears to be losing out to Ryanair. Firstly it has abandoned the pretence of being a budget airline which means its performance does not need to be measured against that of Ryanair. Secondly it appears to be definately ex growth, except so far as capacity is concerned. Passngers carried rose by 8.2% but capacity increased by 8.6%. Load factor fell by 0.3% to 90% in stark contrast to Ryanairs performance and whilst revenue rose by 7.2%, revenue per seat fell by an unhealthy 8.2%. Non seat revenue saved the day with a rise of 19%. Two of the 3 months in the quarter saw a rise in late arrivals, a decline which was also mirrored in the two previous quarters.

Empresario Group EMR expects its results for the year to 31st December will be strong and slightly ahead of expectations, Adjusted profit before tax should  have grown by 23%, to stand at record levels. Earlier uncertainty in the UK has stabilised and 2017 should see exciting growth opportunities for the company

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