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Ian Pollard – Persimmon – Strong Growth As Sales Decline

NEXT plc NXT first quarter trading to the 27th April was saved only  by online sales which rose by 11% and are forecast to continue to grow at the same rate for the remainder of the year. Full price retail sales for the quarter fell by 3.6%. The picture for the remainder of the year is even bleaker with the forecast decline more than doubling to 8.6%. Group profit before tax for the year to January 2020 is expected to show a fall of 1.1%

Persimmon plc PSN  Claims that since the start of the year the new build housing market has proved resilient with high levels of employment, and low interest rates, freely available and attractive mortgages, continuing to support consumer confidence. The Group’s current forward sales position is described as being strong with total forward sales revenue, taken to date in 2019, of £2,698 million down from £2,798 million in 2018. Most companies take the view that a rise in sales is a better test of performance.

Rank Group plc RNK experienced flat like-for-like revenue for the quarter ended 31 March 2019, with total revenue up 1%. The poor start to the year with declines of 6% at Grosvenor and Mecca, improving to 0% and !% respectively and leaving group revenue for quarter 3 level, up from a 5% fall in the first quarter.

IWG plc IWG Growth remained strong during the quarter to the 31st March with Group revenue increasing  by 10.6% at constant currency rates. The improvement was  driven by double digit revenue growth in the Americas, Asia Pacific and EMEA. France, Germany and Spain, also contributed very strongly.

Redhall Group plc RHL the Board anticipates that the full year trading performance for the Group will be materially below its previous expectations. . These were based on the group winning a number of  new contracts, which would deliver a strong trading performance in the second half of the year but delays in the award of a number of these projects and a reduction, in the value of Jordan Manufacturing’s contract for a major nuclear infrastructure programme have impacted those expectations. The groups pipeline of opportunities remains strong and the Board anticipates that it will be able to deliver steady growth into 2020.

Sainsbury J. plc SBRY announces underlying profits up 7.8 per cent, ahead of target and final dividend up 11.3% making a total increase for the year of 7.8 per cent.

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Ian Pollard – Rank #RNK raises dividend after year of decline and disappointment

Rank Group RNK the year to the 30th June was a year of decline and disappointment which for some reason has left the Board full of confidence. The results are in line with the Boards expectations but only expectations which had been revised during the year. For Grosvenor Casinos the year was a challenging one but Mecca’s performance by contrast beat expectations. Profit before tax and earnings per share for the year both fell by 6.3% although on a statutory basis the fall in profit was much steeper at 41.4%. A company-wide transformation programme is only in its development phase but the new Chief Executive says he is moving quickly to identify the key priorities. The disappointment has not been allowed to spread to the final dividend which contrary to the other statistics is to be increased by 2.1%.

Marshalls plc MSLH produced strong revenue growth in the 6 months to the end of June and the interim dividend is to be increased by 18%. Revenue and profit before tax both rose by 12%, basic earnings per share by 10% and EBITDA by 13%. In June and July, however growth became even stronger with revenue rising by 21%.

Kingfisher KGF updates that second quarter group like for like sales to the end of July rose by 1.6% and on a reported basis by 3.4%.  The Chief Executive claims that the company is now on track to deliver its strategic milestones for the third year in a row, helped by good recoveries at both B&Q and Screwfix. For once the UK & Ireland is not the laggard with screwfis sales rising by 11.8%, still someway behind Germany with a rise of 26.6%

Filtronic plc FTC experienced another year of strong demand for its products. For the year to the end of May profit before tax rose from 1.2m to 2.2m and basic earnings per share from 0.59p to 1.51p per share after sales revenue rose from £24m. to £35.4m. Two major contracts were secured during the course of the year and the company was also approved as a vendor by a major US mobile network operator.

Tribal Group TRB has completed the first phase of the turnaround started in 2016 and for the half year to the 30th June, despite a small fall in revenue, earnings per share rose by 76% and and statutory profit after tax by 83%. Market share has been gained in its core markets.

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Ian Pollard – Big Rollers Deserting Rank

Rank Group plc RNK In the 40 weeks to the first of April the digital business has continued to trade strongly but like for like revenue at Mecca and Grosvenor Casinos fell by 2% and 3% respectively.  In quarter three the fall at casinos turned into a slump with like for like revenues falling by 9%, the under performance exacerbated by a negative contribution from VIP players. The board is taking  corrective measure but expects that the groups UK venues will continue to be impacted for the remainder of the current financial year and will continue into 2018-19

Electrocomponents plc ECM expects results for the year to the end of March will be ahead of their own previous expectations and profit before tax will be slightly head of the top end of market expectations. The second half produced strong year on year growth in free cash flow. Group overall like for like revenue growth for the year shows a rise of 13%, Asia Pacific leading the way with a rise of 18% and The Americas taking second place with a rise of 14%

Homeserve plc HSV adjusted profit before tx for the year to the end of March is expected to be significantly ahead of last years 112m after another strong year. North America produced  an excellent performance, driven by continued organic growth and acquisitions

AdEPT Telecom ADT is to recommend an increase from 4p to 4.5p per share in the final dividend for the year to the end of March, making an inrease of 13% for the year a a whole. . Underlying EBITDA will be slightly ahead of market expectations of a 23% year on year rise.

Sophos Group SOPH updates that the year to 31st March was another year of strong growth with reported billings showing n increase of 20-22%, rising to 23% in quarter four.

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Kingfisher – Will The Cure Work

Kingfisher KGF has no problem finding excuses for its  second quarter performance and even includes continued disruptions across the businesses without bothering to enlighten us as to what those may be and whether they are due to management decisions or external forces which management has been unable to cope with. Seasonal swings in both first and second quarters get their share of the blame but there is no let up in the outlook for the second half of the year about which the company remains cautious. However all may be well in the end because the company is on track to deliver its strategic milestones for year 2 of its transformation, which reading between the lines may be the real cause of the poor performance.

B&Q’s seasonal performance in the UK was down 11%, whilst weaker sales in France added to the gloom. Like for like sales during the quarter to 31st July were down 1.9% at constant currency rates. UK & Ireland saw a fall of 1% but B&Q itself was down 4.7%. In France the fall was 3.8% but Russia led the way with  drop of 10.1%. Poland on the other hand showed what could be done with a rise of 4% but perhaps that is due to all these Polish plumbers and joiners who had set up in the UK and then decided to return home to Poland for a better life.

Be that as it may this is yet another major UK company which found the need to transform itself and then discovered that the cure was as bad as the illness. Next year should be the year which will tell us whether it has all been worthwhile and whether, in the end, the cure worked.

Rank Group plc enjoyed strong growth in digital which rose by 63% during the year to the end of June but the first half proved to be challenging for the company and despite strong growth in the second half, group like for like revenue grew by only 1%, and actually fell by 1% in the UK. Adjusted earnings per share and profit before tax rose by 4% and 2% respectively.  Shareholders are compensated with a rise of 12% in the dividend.

Marshalls MSLH Results for the half year to the 30th June saw both profit before tax and basic earnings per share, rise by 16%, with EBITDA up by 13%. The interim dividend is to be increased by 17%. The company believes that its innovative product range and strong market position will continue to support further growth.

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Major Companies Blame Challenging Conditions Again

Rank Group RNK met challenging trading conditions in the 6 months to 31st December but is still raising its interim dividend by 11% after a fall of 17% in profit before tax and 14% in basic earnings per share. Like for like group revenue for the half year rose by 2%. Nothing like raising  a dividend when the going gets tough.

Diageo DGE  is raising its interim dividend by 5% after a stronger performance produced a rise of 14.5% in reported net sales and 28% in operating profit for the 6 months to the end of December. On a like for like basis, operating profit grew by 4.4% and basic earnings per share were up by 20% at 60.3p.

SKY plc SKY produced a strong first half performance with operating profit falling only 10% to £679m, after absorbing £314m of additional Premier League costs. Revenue rose by 12% and earnings per share fell by 5%. strongest growth came in Germany & Italy with rises of 10% and 9% at constant currency rates and the UK lagging behind with only 5%

Unilever ULVR saw core turnover fall by 1% in 2016, which ended with tough market conditions.Core earnings per share fell by 7% or 3% at current exchange rates. Sales rose by 4.3% at constant exchange rates. emerging markets  performed much better with underlying growth of 6.5%. A slow start is expected to 2017 with tough market conditions expected to continue into the first half. Europe has been particularly challenging with subdued volume growth   and price deflation in many countries.

Whitbread plc WTB produced third quarter total sales growth of 8.6% but this masked a patchy like for like position. Restaurants fell by 1.5% on a like for like basis but Costa rose by 4.3% and the total came in at 1.7%

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Foreign Exchange Tailwinds Arrive To Help The Weak.

Cape plc CIU Companies with problems are now beginning to benefit from the collapse of sterling or as Cape puts it, foreign exchange tailwinds. Profit before tax for the half year to 30th July slumped by 30% after a 10% rise in revenue. Weak margins in the UK were partly offset by Asia Pacific performing above expectations and a strong Middle East.  Full year expectations are unchanged, partly because of those foreign exchange tailwinds. That must be a comfort for the company’s management if not for the country as a whole..

Persimmon PSN appears to show clear signs of a slowdown in its housing market, despite claims that it has produced a robust trading performance for the half year to 30th June, which saw profit before tax up by 29% and basic earnings per share  by 19%. True legal completions in the half year did rise by 6% but after a 6% rise in the average selling price, forward sales at the end of the half year were up by only 2% in value. Customer site visits have risen by 20% but site visits are not sales and if forward orders are up by only 2% after a 6% price hike and a 20% increase in visitor numbers, something is not adding up. Revenue for the half year rose by 12% which matches exactly the rise in completions plus the price hike.

Rank Group RNK is increasing its final dividend by 18% to 4.7p per share after growth across all its brands and channels. Like for like revenue for the year to 30th June rose by 3%, total revenue by 2%, adjusted profit before tax and earnings per share by 4% and 5% respectively, so with 18% shareholders are doing very well.

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