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Ian Pollard: Morrisons Smashes Competition With 132% Dividend Rise

Morrison W. Sprmkts MRW which many still regard as that upstart from Bradford has taught the high streets major retailers, the biggest lesson they have had in decades. Forget your Tescos, your M&S and your snooty Sainsbury’s. Morrisons has just smashed the high street competition into little bits and is raising its interim dividend by a record amount. With second quarter like for like sales at a nine year high it has increased its ordinary dividend by 11.4% on top of which it is paying a special dividend of 2p per share making a total increase of 132%. Group like for like sales for the half year to the 5th August rose by 4.9% up from last years 3%. Underlying profit before tax rose by 9% and earnings per share by 8.5%.

The future is seen as containing many opportunities for meaningful and sustainable sales and profit growth. David Potts the Chief Executive, sees Morrisons continuing to become broader and stronger and a more popular brand whilst the Chairman looks forward to “more and more customers trying Morrisons.” Proof if ever proof was needed that the high street is alive and kicking and can be rescued from the damage caused to famous names by sclerotic management and placemen.

Ricardo plc RCDO saw solid revenue growth of 8% during the year to the 30th June with the order book rising by 14% to end the year at record levels. Despite falls in statutory profit before tax and basic earnings per share of 14% and 27% respectively, the final dividend is to be raised by 6% to 20.46p per share. On an underlying basis profit before tax fell by 1% and earnings per share rose by 1%

Amerisur Resources AMER saw strong revenue growth of 93% in the half year to the 30th June and last years first half loss of $2.3m was turned into a profit after tax of $10.8m. The turn round was helped by a rise of 33% in average production and a jump in the oil price from $47.2 to $64.2 per barrel.

SafeCharge Int. Grp SCH enjoyed strong revenue growth of 26% in the half year to the 30th June. Adjusted EBITDA was up by 15% and the interim dividend is also being increased by 15%. The CEO says that the strong set of results has been followed by a good start to the second half  and it is anticipated that revenue for the year will be at the top end of market expectations.

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Morrisons Bringing Home The Bacon

Morrison W. Supermarkets MRW reports its seventh consecutive quarter of what it calls “positive like for like”  after strong first half growth in sales, profits and dividend. Like for like sales excluding fuel and VAT grew by 3% in the 6 months to 30th July, more than double last years first half growth rate of 1.4%. Underlying profit before tax rose by 12.7% and earnings per share by 14.9% and the interim dividend is to be increased by 5.1%. The company now expects to be able to deliver consistent and substantial growth, which is a lot more than can be said for most supermarkets.

GVC Holdings GVC made strong progress during the half year to the 30th June and this is continuing in the third quarter. Clean EBITDA for the current year is expected to be comfortably ahead of analysts consensus.Adjusted profit before tax rose by 99% after a rise of 25% in net gaming revenue. The statutory loss for the half year fell to 6.6m. Euro, down from last years 86.1m Euro

Booker Group BOK performed well in the quarter to the 8th September providing good news for Tesco which is hoping to be allowed to eventually complete the merger of the two companies. Like for like non tobacco sales over the 12 week period rose by 6% whilst tobacco sales continued to decline with a 9.4% fall on a like for like basis. No forward looking statements can be made because of the proposed merger.

Ricardo plc RCDO produced revenue growth of 6% for the year to 30th June after what it described as navigating a year of uncertainty and volatility. It ended the year with a record order book and a strong order intake. Underlying profit before tax rose by 2% and the full year dividend is to be increased by 7%.

Forbidden Technology FBT saw a slow down in first half sales because of larger deals which it had in its pipeline , leading to an increase in deferred revenue. Contracted orders rose by 67% including deferred  revenue which itself rose by 74%. The net loss before tax fell slightly as did the EBITDA loss.

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Morrisons Surprises Yet Again

Morrisons W MRW has never lost our Ken’s ability to spring surprises and the new management team is doing just that with a 5.3% rise in the interim dividend and underlying profit before tax for the half year to 31st July up by 11%. Whilst total turnover did fall by 4%, first half like for like sales increased by 1.4% and the improving trend continued into quarter 2 where like for like rose by 2%. Cost savings for 2016 – 17 will exceed £1bn. Morrisons claims that its new team is making a real difference with lower prices, better service and improving quality.

NEXT NXT Total brand sales for the half year to the end f July rose by 3% but this was only achieved by discounting, with full price sales down by 4%. Profit before tax is down by 1.5% on a weekly comparable basis, last year having 53 trading weeks, compared to this years 52 weeks. Despite this being the age of the internet, it is perhas surprising that Next is bringing forward new store openings due next year, into the current financial year and will increase net trading space by 350,000 sq.ft. Next direct sales rose by 3%.

John Lewis Partnership BB90 saw small rises in sales for the half year to 30th July translated into whopping falls in operating profit and profit before tax which slumped by 74.5%. The company claims this is due to far reaching changes in society and deep structural changes in the retail market. Gross sales rose by 3.1% and John Lewis showed a like for like rise in sales of 3.1% compared to a 1% fall at Waitrose but the bad news is that the unwanted pressure are expected to continue throughout the rest of this year and next.

Ricardo plc RCDO The year end order book stands at  a record high at £231m, up from last year’s£140m The fully year dividend for the year to 30th June is being increased by 90% after a strong performance from the two acquisitions which the company made. revenue rose by 29%, underlying profit before tax by 41% and basic earnings per share by 30%. The company sees the outlook as positive with potential for good further growth.

Crawshaw Group CRAW is disappointed with current trading. The suppressed footfall from which it began to suffer in June has continued to the end of the half year and since then conditions have remained difficult.  The company is taking remedial action, it says.

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