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Ian Pollard – Reckitt Benckiser #RB Impacted By Weak Cold & Flu Season

Reckitt Benckiser Gp RB. The first quarter got off to a slow start but improving growth is seen for  the remainder of the year, particularly in the second half. Like for like full year net revenue target is expected to show growth of 3-4% compared to 1% in the first quarter. The  health business was impacted by an unusually weak cold and flu season across US and several European markets. First quarter sales of over the counter health products showed a like for like  decline of 9%. The good news is that March saw an increased incidence of cold and flu and coincidentally,  of course, an increased share performance.

Paddy Power Betfair PPB updates that the first quarter to the 31st March was a good one with total revenue up by 17%, led by gaming with a rise of 26%.Online revenue performance at Sports was affected by unfavourable results in both the UK and Ireland. Australia is described as having had a very strong quarter, whilst from the US huge progress is reported.

Smith & Nephew plc SN has made a good start to 2019 across the whole of the company. Underlying revenue growth for the full year is expected to be in the upper half of the guidance range of 2.5% to 3.5%.Mid-teens growth from the Emerging Markets, A strong quarter in China was accompanied by  Mid-teens growth from Emerging Markets. First quarter revenue of $1,202 million saw growth 4.4% and all three global franchises accelerated, with growth ahead of 2018.

Rolls Royce Holdings plc RR  updates for its AGM that it has continued to make progress with its restructuring programme. The market environment is healthy, with strong order intake at Power Systems, good flying hour growth in Civil Aerospace and positive order momentum in Defence. Costs are being brought down and engineering efficiency is being improved

Fisher (James) FSJ reports for its AGM that   its  first quarter financial performance at its Tankships and Offshore Oil divisions in the first quarter. is well ahead of last year. The pipeline of opportunities in its Specialist Technical remains strong.  With a good start to 2019 the outlook for the year remains positive and the company is well placed for further growth.

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Ian Pollard – #BP Firing Strongly On All Fronts

BP plc BP Delivered strong earnings and cash flow as well as a strong third quarter operating performance  Underlying replacement cost profit was $3.8 billion, more than double a year earlier and the highest quarterly result in more than five years. Reliability was very good , with the highest quarterly refining availability for 15 years. Profit for the first nine months was $8,617 million compared to $3,362 million for the same period in 2017.The third quarter dividend is to be increased by 2.5% to 10.25 cents per share. Expansion projects in the Gulf of Mexico and Australia began production in October, both ahead of schedule. They are BP’s fourth and fifth Upstream major projects to start up in 2018. The acquisition from BHP which will transform BP in the US is due to be completed tomorrow.

Reckitt Benckiser RB Reiterates its 2018 target of +14-15% total net revenue growth at constant rates, despite quarter three being impacted by a temporary manufacturing disruption at its European IFCN plant, which affected sales to a number of markets. The disruption was resolved and the company claims it has sufficient momentum and progress in the business to absorb this temporary manufacturing loss..

Proactis Holdings plc PLD reported a rise in revenue of 106% for the year to the 31st July, with adjusted profit before tax up by 186% from 4.2m to 12.0m. On a statutory basis, last years loss of 2.6m was transformed into a profit of 4.9m and the final dividend is to be increased from 1.4p per share to 1.5p The Group’s new business performance is as strong as management had planned, whilst profitability and cash flow generation was impressive.

Ocado Group plc OCDO has signed service and operational terms with Kroger under which Kroger will order Customer Fulfilment Centres which will then be developed and operated by Ocado. Kroger is expected to order 20 CFCs over the first three years of the agreement,  the first three of which will be ordered by the end of 2018.

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Ian Pollard – Rightmove #RMV warns of consumer confidence worries

Rightmove RMV provides another warning from the housing industry that all is not well. Transactions in the first half of the year fell by 5% compared to last year and today’s update warns that economic conditions in the UK are such that consumer confidence may be impacted which could in turn affect the level of transactions and the number of agencies it operates.Despite the warning the interim dividend is to be increased by 14% from 22p per share to 25p., after rises of 10% and 14% in revenue and basic earnings per share, whilst underlying operating profit increased by 11%.

BT Group BT Underlying revenue fell 2% in the quarter to the 30th June due to regulated price reductions in Openreach and declines in enterprise businesses offsetting growth in consumer businesses. Adjusted3 profit before tax rose 3% to £816m., which the Chief Executive describes as a good start to the year.

Reckitt Benckiser Gp RB is increasing its interim dividend by 6% to 70.5 p. per share after the second quarter to the 30th June produced a 30% rise in net revenue at constant currency rates and adjusted earnings per share rose by 12%.The full year net revenue target has been increased from +13-14% to +14-15% after growth exceeded expectations. 

Pearson plc PSON reports a rise of 46% in underlying operating profit for the half year to the 30th June with good growth in earnings per share. The interim dividend is being increased by 10% from 5p. per share to 5.5p. Expectations continue of a full year decline in net sales in the US.

Gear4music G4M updates that revenue growth continues to be strong and the relocation of the Swedish distribution centre and upgrade to UK distribution facilities are on-track to be delivered ahead of the peak trading period.

Hutchison China Medi HCH reports that it continues to deliver on its clear strategy of “developing its broad pipeline and cultivating and growing its capabilities in global drug discovery and development”. Half year group revenue tumbled from $126m. to $102m and last years net profit of $1.7m was turned into a net loss of $32.7m. for the six months to the end of June.

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Ian Pollard – Reckitt Benckiser #RB – Egg on face & seeking wriggle room

Reckitt Benckiser RB is left wiping  egg off its face as it abandons its proposal to acquire part of Pfizers Consumer Health Care business. The CEO finds himself squirming with some embarrassment as he tries to wriggle his way out of a situation which he seems to admit they should not have got into in the first place.  He says that RB only believes in organic growth but fails to explain as to why on earth they then went and got themselves involved in a proposed acquisition, Then he goes on to admit that in the end the proposal to acquire part only of the business, became impossible and again offers no explanation as to why they went for the impossible without realising that it would be impossible.

Crest Nicholson CRST updates that the trading environment continues to be generally robust with demand for new houses  continuing to be strong. Deference is paid to the government for its role in supporting the housing market to such an extent that in great swathes of the country, homes have become so expensive as to be unaffordable except for the wealthy despite price inflation having moderated.

Ted Baker plc TED reports another year of continued progress and success as profit before tax for the year to the 27th January produced a rise of 12.3% in profit before tax. Revenue grew by 11.4% and basic earnings per share by 12.6%. It is proposed to increase the final dividend to 43.5p. per share bringing the total for the year to 60.1p., a rise of 12%

Sanne Group plc SNN Group revenue for the year to 31st December rose by 77% and profit before tax by 49%. The final dividend is recommended for an increase to 8.4p per share, bringing the total for the year to 12.6p compared to 9.6p for 2016

Safestyle UK plc SFE found its market becoming increasingly challenging as 2017 progressed. Its financial performance was impacted as raw material prices increased at the same time as finance subsidy costs and lead generation costs. Profit before tax for the year to the 31st December fell by 28.5% and basic earnings per share by 31.1%. The final dividend remains unchanged at 11.25p per share. Market share grew by over 10% during the year but perhaps this is a classic case of increasing market share irrespective of profitability. 2018 has not brought any improvement and the year has got off to a difficult start. Order intake is below management expectations as the company’s market continues to deteriorate, whilst competition increases and consumer confidence continues to fall.

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Ian Pollard – Reckitt Benckiser Returns To Growth In Fourth Quarter

Reckitt Benckiser RB delivered what it claims was a solid end to the year with like for like fourth quarter net revenue up by 2% on a constant currency basis, accompanied by volume led growth also of 2%. For the year as a whole like for like net revenue at constant exchange rates was flat thus justifying the claim that the fourth quarter saw a return to growth. Reported net income for the year rose by 88% at constant exchange rates but on an  adjusted basis this fell back to 4%, whilst adjusted earnings per share were up by 10%. The final dividend is to be 97.7p per share making a total increase for the year of 7%. For 2018 the target is total like for like revenue growth of 2-3% as RB continues on its journey to becoming a global leader in consumer health care.

Spectris SXS made good strategic progress in broadening its customer offer in 2017 with like for like sales rising by 6% and adjusted operating profit and earnings per share by 8% and 14% respectively. The final dividend is to be increased by 9%.

Fidessa Group FDSA reports a solid performance in transforming markets in the year the 31st December, with adjusted profit before tax rising by 5% on a constant currency basis. The final dividend is to be increased by 5% on top of which there will be a repeat of the previous years special dividend of 50p per share. For 2018 similar levels of constant currency growth are forecast.

Dart Group DTG expects that underlying profit before tax will be materially ahead of current market expectations for the year to the end of March, due to the end of the heavy discounting of the past year, the return of a more normal pricing environment and the continued success of its growing leisure travel business With  satisfactory forward bookings, trading for 2019 is expected to be in line with the current year.

BATM Advanced Communications BVC expects that 2017 revenue will be significantly ahead of market expectations at $106m, which represents a year on year rise of 17%. This follows the company’s success  in obtaining new customers, new contracts and new territories.

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Reckitt Benckiser – Admits Incapable Of Growth

Reckitt Benckiser RB Rarely has a board been so isolated from reality that it shows not the slightest comprehension of the fear which its own chosen headlines for its third quarter update, could instill in shareholders. Those headlines speak of a continuing challenging environment and then worse still, an admission that the company needs reorganising for growth. So what exactly have the directors and senior management been doing recently to earn their remuneration. How can they have let things get so out of hand that they are forced to admit that the company is so badly organised it is incapable of growth.

Net revenue both for the quarter and for the year to date both fell by 1%. The best it could manage was growth in only one category out of four and that was a lowly 1% in hygiene,  It was a soft quarter bemoans the CEO whose best expectations are for a flat like for like target for the full year, whilst at the same time claiming  to be excited about the prospects for the company.

BHP Billiton BHP updates that its first quarter performance leaves it on track for 7% volume growth in the current financial year but the figures are somewhat patchy. Petroleum and gas production declined compared to the same quarter last year, as did iron ore and coal. Copper was the only bright spot with a rise of 14%. However there are four major projects under development one of which involves investment of $2.5 billion.

Softcat SCT announces another very strong year with double digit growth in both gross and operating profit. Revenue for the year to 31st July rose by 23.8% and operating profit by 18.9%. The final dividend is to be increased by 69.4% and a special dividend of 13.5p per share, down 15% on last year, is also to be paid, making a total dividend increase for the year of 15%. The company has now produced 48 consecutive quarters of top and bottom line year on years growth.

Eckoh ECK has been trading strongly in the UK during the half year to the 30th September, whilst in the US where it only entered the market in 2014 it also appears to be going from strength to strength, having won a total of 30 contracts since then. Good progress is being made in converting its contracts pipeline into orders and new contracts awarded in the first half,  have equaled those awarded in the whole of the last financial. year

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Germany Creating Its Own Economic Stalingrad

The utter contempt which German car manufacturers have shown for generally accepted business standards and for its customers wordwide are a clear sign of a new mood in Germany. The falsifying of emission tests is one of the largest criminal frauds which has ever been perpetrated and the companies involved, VW, Porsche, Audi etc. could not care less. Only the US is big enough to dare to challenge the might of the German car industry and even it is treading comparatively lightly, at least so far. Compare the treatment of the Westminster Three, bankers who were arrested in the UK and extradited to the US,  where they were subjected to the full rigours of the US criminal system for a fraud which paled into insignificance compared to that perpetrated by the German car industry, a huge conspiracy to defraud car owners and ensure that the worlds atmosphere  did not get cleaned up as it should have been.

The UKs place as a laughing stock in world affairs is well illustrated by the fact that it is about the only major country where  the Germans are  refusing  to offer any compensation whatsoever to UK owners who were tricked into buying what they thought were clean cars. The UK is being singled out because it has become too weak and irrelevant to matter and they Germans know they can get away with it.

Such  disregard for the laws of countries in which Germany trades indicates the emergence of a new arrogance and this is not the only example.

One of the worst features of this new and dangerous mood in Germany, is its huge and utterly illegal trade surplus, which in the end will destroy the Eurozone and with it the EU as we know it. Eurozone rules prohibit a budget deficit in excess of 3% of GDP and similarly they also prohibit a trade surplus in excess of 3%. The 3% limits are there for good economic reasons – to exceed them creates an imbalance in the worlds or Europes economies. The German surplus has been inexorably rising towards a huge 10% and it adamantly refuses to do anything about it. Obviously compliance with EU laws is not, once again, something which the Germans are very keen on. They would much prefer, as they have done for years, to scream and rail against tiny Greece for its budget deficits which have now happily been turned into a small surplus and blame the Greeks for causing the imbalance which threatens the Euro. That is much like blaming a rowing boat for sinking the Titanic.

Germany is in effect waging economic warfare, tanks and the jackboot have become outdated. Countries can be devastated  by economic means and Germany has shown that it has every intention of continuing to amass its massive and illegal surpluses. There is only one hope and that is the German education system. Germans are still brought up to be disciplined and  follow orders. They can not imagine that they are on the road to creating an economic Stalingrad. This time it will not be a blind failure to realise that you need winter uniforms to survive in temperatures of -40C which will cause havoc. This time it will be the sudden realisation that their illegal surpluses have brought about the collapse of their own economy because suddenly there will not be enough  money left outside Germany for people to buy its exports. Its illegal surpluses will destroy its own export markets. Germany has again forgotten basic principles, -this time, that one countries budget surplus is another countries budget deficit.

In corporate news:

AstraZeneca AZN says its Lynparza ovarian cancer drug developed with Merck & Co has received additional and broad approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Astra Chief Medical Officer Sean Bohen said: “Today’s approvals validate more than 10 years of dedicated research behind Lynparza, the world’s first PARP inhibitor, which now provides oncologists with the greater flexibility for use in terms of treatment settings.”

Reckitt Benckiser Group RB. has completed the sale of its food business for $4.2 billion. The net proceeds will be used to reduce debt.

Renewables Infrastructure Group TRIG produced a robust operational and financial performance for the half year to the 30th June, with profit before tax up from 19.2m to 31.3m and earnings per share rising from 2.6p to 3.5p. The company remains on track to deliver dividends of 6.4p per share for the full year.

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Corporate news review Monday 24 July 2017

Cranswick CWK – reports a positive start to the current financial year, with 3-month revenues to June 30 up 27%, while net debt of £18m is down £4m on this time last year. The board is confident in both outlook and continued long-term success and development of the business.

Earthport EPO – FY revenues are up c33% to £30.3m, with a adjusted EBITDA losses reduced by c65% to £2.4m Group cash balances at June 30 stood at £11.9m vs. £14.4m this time last year.

Mortice MORT – reports a 36.7% hike in FY revenues to $181.01m, with EBITDA up 114 % to $10.3 m. Following the pacing last December, Mortice reports net debt of $13.5m and balance sheet flexibility to pursue growth opportunities.

Ryanair RYA – Q1 results: CEO Michael O’Leary said the 55% increase in PAT of €397m was distorted by the absence of Easter in the prior year Q1. Highlights include: Traffic up 12% to 35m, load factor +2% to 96%, Av fare up 1% to €40.30, unit costs down 6%, €200m+ returned to shareholders via share buybacks and 397 B737’s in fleet at end of Q1.

Petra Diamonds PDL – issues a FY 2017 trading update and reports an 8% increase in FY production to 4.0 Mcts, with revenue up 11% to $477m. PDL reports year end cash of $205m, vs. $46.1m this time last year, and with Capex now in decline, debt levels will start to fall, expects to become free cashflow positive during FY 2018.

SThree STHR – reports encouraging H1 with accelerated momentum in Q2. Operating profits grew 26% year on year to £19.m, and the group reports a strong financial position with net cash of £5.2m, vs/ £4.4m debt this time last year. Says the macro-economic environment remains uncertain.

Reckitt Benckiser RB. – reports half-year net revenue of £5,017m, down -1%. The results include half a month of trading from Mead Johnson Nutrition, acquired on 15 June. RB CEO says the FY net revenue target of +2% LFL growth is a challenging target amid tough market conditions, and there is work to do on addressing the full implications of the recent cyber-attack.

W.H. Ireland WHI – reports a 24% increase in H1 revenue to £14.9m, with pre-exceptional operating profits of £0.4m. WHI remains optimistic about the outlook for the second half of 2017 and the foundations for future growth into 2018.

Reckitt Benckiser laps strong sell-in and suffers.

Reckitt Benckiser Gp. RB. If you have a copy of RB’s jargon handbook then you might be able to glean some understanding of what they are trying to say in todays trading update which is an insult to to the intelligence of its shareholders. Generally RB is performing as it expected and quite strongly. Like for like growth rates throughout the year are are on track to reach the target of 3%. As for the rest I am still trying to guess what ENA and DvM are. Scholl was impacted by a headwind but we are not enlightened as to whether that was down to the incompetence of management or some little local difficulties.  There were other “flagged” headwinds about which we are similarly left in the dark and these are going to persist . Turkey and Korea suffered from HS issues whilst LATAM performance was in line with expectations. One product suffered significantly as a result of lapping a strong sell – in of a wet and dry initiative. Enough said.

Strategic Minerals SML claims it is set to perform strongly this year after achieving record domestic sales in the quarter to 31st March from its Cobre magnetite tailings operation, where profit margins rose above 50%. A significant new client has been obtained which it is expected will lead to a doubling of Cobre sales and to profitability in 2017. SML has been the subject of its first brokers research note.

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Apple Declares War On Imagination Technology.

Imagination Technology IMG. Apple has served notice on IMG that in 15 months to 2 years time it will stop using IMGs intellectual property in its new products, be they phones, tablets, i pods or watches. This means that IMG will not then be eligible for royalty payments from Apple under the present agreement. Apple is IMG’s largest customer and has been using IMG’s intellectual property for many years. Now it looks like war with only the lawyers licking their lips at the prospect.

Apple insists that it has been working on its own separate, independent graphics designs. IMG has asked Apple to produce evidence that these will not infringe IMG’s patents, confidential information and intellectual property rights. Apple, being Apple, has ignored the request. Does the invasion of Poland draw nigh?

Reckitt Benckiser RB. has come to the conclusion that French’s Foods is such a fantastic performer with great brands, great people and a history of out performance that it it is going to launch a strategic review of food  so that it can decided what to do with this “great food business” i.e. French’s. Well if its such a good performer and its people are so great, there should only be one answer and a management which was even only slightly clued up would know what that answer was without wasting time on strategic reviews. Simple  – replace themselves with the management of French Foods, start a strategic review of their own present performance  and ascertain why French’s does so well by comparison.

Obviously a strategic review keeps group management busy and out of harms way but in the end management is supposed to manage.

Iofina IOF Problems with a partner over brine supplies have proved to be a blessing in disguise. Alternative sources of supply have been investigated, as a result of which IOF expects to be able to increase iodine production above end 2016 levels and to reduce overall production costs.

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