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Ken Baksh – October market report…..trickery or treats!

October 2018 Market Report

During the month to September 30th, 2018, major equity markets again displayed a mixed trend, rising by 1.19% overall and the VIX index fell. There continued to be an abundance of market moving news over what is traditionally a quieter month, at macro-economic, corporate and political levels.

The European Central Bank appeared to become more certain of removing QE over coming quarters, with more hawkish policy statements, but delaying any interest rate increase until 2019, while economic news seems to have been more upbeat than in recent months, particularly in Germany. Political events were not in short supply, and in Turkey for example, continued to affect bond and currency markets while Italian bonds and the anniversary of the Greek rescue package also attracted headlines.  US market watchers continued to grapple with ongoing tariff discussions, Federal Budget, Turkish stand-off, NAFTA follow up and North Korean meeting uncertainty as well as Trump’s growing domestic issues, ominously becoming higher profile, before the important November midterm elections. US economic data and corporate results so far have generally been above expectation and the official interest rate was increased again in September to a range of 2%-2.25%.  In the Far East, China flexed its muscles in response to Trump’s trade and other demands while relaxing some bank reserve requirements. Japanese second quarter GDP growth appeared higher than expected and Shinzo Abe consolidated his political position, both perceived as market friendly, and the ten-year bond continues to trade near the recent yield high.  The UK reported mixed economic data with satisfactory developments on the government borrowing side, inflation higher than expected, but poor relative GDP figures and deteriorating property sentiment, both residential and commercial. Recent retail data shows mixed trends, some “weather related”. Market attention, both domestic and international is clearly focussed on ongoing BREXIT developments and their strong influence on politics.

Aggregate world hard economic data continues to show steady expansion, excluding the UK, as confirmed by the IMF and the OECD with some forecasts of 2018 economic growth in the 3.3% to 3.6% area, a little lower than January forecasts. Fluctuating currencies continued to play an important part in asset allocation decisions, the stronger US dollar again being the major recent feature recently, although lagging the yen year to date. Emerging market currencies have had a particularly volatile period. Government Bond holders saw small price moves over the month. Of note was the continuing rise in the Japanese Government Bond Yield, albeit from a low level. Oil was again about the only major commodity to show a price gain in September.

At the end of the nine -month period, “mixed investment” unit trusts show a very small positive price performance, with technology and most overseas equity regions showing above average performance, and bonds, Asia excl-Japan and Emerging markets in negative territory. Source: Morningstar


Global Equities displayed a mixed performance over the month of September, the FTSE ALL World Index gaining 1.19% in dollar terms and showing a small positive return since the beginning of the year. The UK broad and narrow market indices lagged other major markets over the month in local terms and have underperformed in both local and sterling adjusted values from the end of 2017 by 4.4% and 9.3% respectively. Europe ex-UK also declined while USA and Japan outperformed. The NASDAQ index, driven by technology companies, remains by far the best asset class year to date. In sterling adjusted terms, America, helped to a large degree by the tech sector, has jumped to the top of the leader board year to date, with Japan following. The VIX index fell 5.22 % over the month, and at the current level of 12.54 is up about 22% from the year end.

UK Sectors

Sector volatility remained high during the month, influenced by both global factors e.g. commodity prices, tariffs, as well as corporate activity. Banking stocks fell significantly while oil and gas gained 1.8%. Over the nine-month period, pharmaceuticals are outpacing the worse performing major sector, telecommunications by around 40%.

Fixed Interest

Gilt prices fell over the month and are now down 3.55% year to date in capital terms, the 10-year UK yield standing at 1.46% currently.  Other ten-year yield closed the month at US 3.06% Japan, 0.09% and Germany 0.46% respectively.  UK corporate bonds fell, ending August on a yield of approximately 2.74%. Amongst the more speculative grades, emerging market bonds continued to fall in capital terms. Floating rate bond prices outperformed gilts over the month and both of my recommended funds are showing significant capital and total return outperformance of conventional gilts year to date. I continue to strongly recommend this asset class. The monthly dip in the convertible fund may provide a buying opportunity, with a stable running yield near 5% See my recommendations in preference shares, convertibles, corporate bonds, floating rate bonds etc. A list of my top thirty income ideas (all yielding over 5%) from over 10 different asset classes is available. 

Foreign Exchange

Amongst the major currencies, a slightly weaker Yen was the monthly feature largely on political and economic developments. Sterling showed just small moves against the major currencies over the month. Currency adjusted, the FTSE World Equity Index is now outperforming the FTSE 100 by over around 9.3% since the end of 2017.


A generally weak month for commodities with the notable exception of oil, largely on supply issues. Over the year so far, oil, wheat and uranium (renegotiation of longer-term contracts) have shown the greatest gains.

Looking Forward

Over the coming months, geo-political events and Central Bank actions/statements will be accompanied by the onset of the third quarter corporate reporting season, resulting in an abundance of stock moving events. With medium term expectation of rising bond yields, equity valuations and fund flow (both institutional and Central bank) dynamics will also be increasingly important areas of interest/concern.

US watchers will continue to speculate on the timing and number of interest rate hikes 2018/2019 and longer-term debt dynamics, as well as fleshing out the winners and losers from any tariff developments (steel, aluminium, EU, China,NAFTA)-a moving target! Third quarter figures (and accompanying statements) will be subject to even greater analysis after the buoyant first half year, and the growing list of headwinds. Additional discussions pertaining to North Korea, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and Trump’s own position could precipitate volatility in equities, commodities and currencies, especially with the November mid-term elections edging closer. In Japan market sentiment may be calmer after recent political and economic events although international events e.g exchange rates and tariff developments will affect equity direction. European investment mood will be tested by economic figures, EU Budget discussions, Italian bond spreads, Turkish and Spanish politics, and reaction to the migrant discussions. It must also be remembered that the QE bond buying is being wound down over coming months.  Hard economic data and various sentiment/residential property indicators will continue to show that UK economic growth will be slower in 2018 compared to 2017, and further down grades may appear as anecdotal third quarter trends are closely analysed. Brexit discussion has moved to a new level, discussions, and several target EU/ BREXIT dates and the Conservative Party Conference, starting today, will inevitably lead to speculation of all sorts.    The current perceptions of either a move to a “softer” European exit, or a “no deal” will undoubtedly lead to pressure from many sides.   Political tensions stay at elevated levels both within and across the major parties and considerable uncertainties still face individual companies and sectors. Industry, whether through trade organizations, international pressure e.g Japan, or directly e.g. Bae, BMW,Toyota, Honda, Ryanair is becoming increasingly impatient, and vocal, and many London based financial companies are already “voting with their feet”.

On a valuation basis, most, but not all, conventional government fixed interest products continue to appear expensive against current economic forecasts and supply factors, and renewed bond price declines and further relative underperformance versus equities should be expected in the medium term, in my view. See my recent ‘iceberg’ illustration for an estimate of bond sensitivity, particularly acute for longer maturities. Price declines are eroding any small income returns leading to negative total returns in many cases.  On the supply point there are increasing estimates of US bond issuance against a background of diminished QE and overseas buying. European bond purchases are also winding down.

Equities appear more reasonably valued, apart from some PE metrics, (especially in the US), but there are wide variations, and opportunities, in both broad asset classes. Equity investors will be looking to see if superior earnings growth can compensate for higher interest rates in several areas. Helped in no small part by tax cuts, US companies have been showing earnings growth more than 20% so far this year, although the current quarter is widely expected to be the peak comparison period, and ‘misses’ are being severely punished e.g. Facebook and Twitter.   Corporate results from US, Europe and Japan have, on aggregate, been up to expectations over the current period.

Outside pure valuation measures, sentiment indicators and the VIX index are showing significant day to day variation, after the complacency of last year. The current level of 13.54 appears rather low in the context of potential banana skins.

In terms of current recommendations,

Continue to overweight equities relative to core government bonds, especially within Continental Europe and Japan. However, an increased weighting in absolute return and other vehicles may be warranted as equity returns will become increasingly lower and more volatile and holding greater than usual cash balances may also be appropriate. Among major equity markets, the USA is one of the few areas where the ten-year bond yields more than the benchmark equity index. The equity selection should be very focussed. Certain equity valuations are rather high, especially on a PE basis (see quarterly), although not in “bubble” territory. A combination of sharper than expected interest rate increases with corporate earnings shocks would not be conducive to strong equity returns. Ongoing and fluid tariff discussions could additionally unsettle selected countries, sectors and individual stocks Harley Davidson, German car producers, American and Brazilian soy producers etc.

  • UK warrants a neutral allocation after the strong relative bounce over the quarter on the back of stronger oil price, sterling weakness and corporate activity. Ongoing Brexit debate, political stalemate and economic uncertainty could cause more sterling wobbles, which in turn could affect sector/size choices. I would expect to see more profits warnings (Countryside,Foxtons,H&M,BHS,Homebase- latest casualties) and extra due diligence in stock/fund selection is strongly advised.
  • Within UK sectors, some of the higher yielding defensive plays e.g. Pharma, telco’s and utilities have attractions relative to certain cyclicals and many financials are showing confidence by dividend hikes and buy-backs etc. Over recent months, value stocks have been staging a long overdue recovery compared to growth stocks. Oil and gas majors may be worth holding despite the outperformance to date. Remember that the larger cap names such as Royal Dutch and BP will be better placed than some of the purer exploration plays in the event of a softer oil price. Mining stocks remain a strong hold, in my view (see my recent note for favoured large cap pooled play). Corporate activity, already apparent in the engineering (GKN), property (Hammerson), pharmaceutical (Glaxo, Shire?), packaging (Smurfit), retail (Sainsbury/Asda), leisure (Whitbread),media (Sky),mining (Randgold) is likely to increase in my view, although the Government has recently been expressing concern about overseas take-overs in certain strategic areas.
  • Continental European equities continue to be preferred to those of USA, for reasons of valuation, and Central bank policy, although political developments in Italy, Spain and Turkey should be monitored closely. Improving economic data adds to my enthusiasm for selected European names, although European investors may be advised to focus more on domestic, rather than export related themes. Look at underlying exposure of your funds carefully. Remember that certain European and Japanese companies provide US exposure, without paying US prices. I have recently written on Japan, and I would continue to overweight this market, despite the large 2017 and 2018 to date outperformance. Smaller cap/ domestic focussed funds may outperform broader index averages e.g. JP Morgan Japanese Smaller Companies and Legg Mason.
  • Alternative fixed interest vehicles, which continue to perform relatively well against conventional government bonds, have attractions e.g. floating rate funds, preference shares, convertibles, for balanced, cautious accounts and energy/ emerging/speculative grade for higher risk. These remain my favoured plays within the fixed interest space. See recent note
  • UK bank preference shares still look particularly attractive and could be considered as alternatives to the ordinary shares in some cases. If anything, recent sector “news” has highlighted the attractions of the sector.
  • Alternative income, private equity and renewable funds have exhibited their defensive characteristics during recent equity market wobbles and are still recommended as part of a balanced portfolio. Many of these are already providing superior total returns to both gilts and equities so far this year. Reference could be made to the renewable funds (see my recent solar and wind power recommendations). Results from Greencoat on February 26nd and Bluefield Solar (last week) reinforce my optimism for the sector. I will be writing on Bluefield shortly. Selected infrastructure funds are also recommended for purchase after the recent Corbyn/Carillion inspired weakness (see note). The take-over of JLIF during the month highlights the value in the sector!
  • Any new commitments to the commercial property sector should be more focussed on direct equities and investment trusts than unit trusts (see my recent note comparing open ended and closed ended funds), thus exploiting the discount and double discount features respectively as well as having liquidity and trading advantages. However, in general I would not overweight the sector, as along with residential property, I expect further price stagnation especially in London offices and retail developments e.g. (Hammerson, Intu). The outlook for some specialist sub sectors e.g. health, logistics, student, multi-let etc and property outside London/South-East, however, is currently more favourable. Investors should also consider some continental European property See my recent company note.
  • I suggest a very selective approach to emerging equities and would continue to avoid bonds. Although the overall valuation for emerging market equities is relatively modest, there are large differences between individual countries. A mixture of high growth/high valuation e.g. India, Vietnam and value e.g. Russia could yield rewards and there are signs of funds moving back to South Africa on political change. Turkish assets seem likely to remain highly volatile in the short term and much of South America is either in a crisis mode g. Venezuela or entering an uncertain election process e.g. Brazil. As highlighted in the quarterly, Chinese index weightings are expected to increase quite significantly over coming years and Saudi Arabia, is just being allowed into certain indices.

Full fourth quarter report will shortly be available to clients/subscribers and suggested portfolio strategy/individual recommendations are available. Ideas for a ten stock FTSE portfolio, model pooled fund portfolios (cautious, balanced adventurous, income), 30 stock income lists, hedging ideas and a list of shorter-term low risk/ high risk ideas can also be purchased, as well as bespoke portfolio construction/restructuring. Feel free to contact    regarding any investment project.

Good luck with performance!   Ken Baksh 01/10/2018

Independent Investment Research

Ken has over 35 years of investment management experience, working for two major City institutions between 1976 and 2002.

Since then he has been engaged as a self-employed investment consultant. He has worked with investment trusts, unit trusts, pension funds, charities, Life Fund,hedge fund and private clients. Individual asset managed have included direct equities and bonds pooled vehicles currencies, derivatives and commodities.

Projects undertaken in a number of areas including asset allocation, risk control, performance measurement, marketing, individual company research, legacy portfolios and portfolio construction. He has a BSc(Mathematics/Statistics) and is a Fellow Member of the UK Society of Investment Professionals.

Phone 07747 114 691




All stock recommendations and comments are the opinion of writer.

Investors should be cautious about all stock recommendations and should consider the source of any advice on stock selection. Various factors, including personal ownership, may influence or factor into a stock analysis or opinion.

All investors are advised to conduct their own independent research into individual stocks before making a purchase decision. In addition, investors are advised that past stock performance is not indicative of future price action.

You should be aware of the risks involved in stock investing, and you use the material contained herein at your own risk

The author may have historic or prospective positions in securities mentioned in the report.

The material on this website are provided for information purpose only.

Please contact Ken, (kenbaksh@btopenworld.com) for further information

Ian Pollard: Sainsbury – Embarrassed At The Altar

Sainsbury (J) plc SBRY tries to present itself as the blushing bride dressed in all her finery and waiting at the altar for her handsome suitor. Certainly the blushing is well justified having regard to the way in which the annual figures for the year to the 10th March are presented. On an underlying basis the Chief Executive is pleased to announce an increase in profit before tax of of 1.4% and a rise of 9% in group sales. No hesitation there in stating the % differences between this years figures and last years, until that is, one comes to the statutory results. There  the comparison percentages have all been carefully omitted  and the reader is left to work them out for himself. And that is where the first blush of embarrassment  begins to show with a collapse of some 20% in profit before tax from last years £503m to this years £409m. and a fall in basic earnings per share from 17.5p per share to 13.3p, a fall of some 25%.

When it comes to the annual dividend this is presented in such a way that most people outside Sainsbury’s head office would conclude that it had been increased but it hasn’t.” We propose to pay a final dividend of 7.1 pence per share, an increase of eight per cent, .”, they claim. Point number one, the increase appears to be 7.6%, not 8%. “Bringing our full year dividend to 10.2 pence per share.” they add- that is seriously misleading because “bringing it to 10.2p” means that it was not at that level previously – otherwise it could not be “brought” to10.2p. The truth is that this years dividend of 10.2 p. per share is identical to last years. By now the bride should be in full blushing mode and the groom, if he has any sense, will be back in the wedding car legging it at a great rate of knots up the MI and back to his home in Morley.

Paddy Power Betfair plc PPB As one would expect from a bookmaker the figures for the quarter to the 31st March are presented just as they are and without any pretence. Sports results from November to February were so good for the bookmaker, that the punters stopped punting which meant that the year got off to a bad start, with revenue falling by 2%, underlying EBITDA down by 8% and operating profit down by 12%. It is expected that £500m of cash will be returned to to shareholders over the next 12 to 18 months.

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Ian Pollard – Sainsbury Beats The Pessimists

Sainsbury J plc SBRY expects full year underlying profit before tax will be moderately ahead of published consensus after a strong third quarter produced a rise of 1.1% in like for like sales, excluding fuel, for the 15 weeks to the 6th January. Groceries online and convenience saw growth of 8.2% and 7.3% respectively leading to a rise of 2.3% in total grocery sales. The icing on the cake was that general merchandise and clothing outperformed the market in challenging conditions. Online now accounts for 20% of total group sales lending support to those who expect families to continue replacing the car for shopping, in favour of the armchair. The size of the turnround in Grcocery can be seen from the fact that last years third quarter rise over 2015/16 came in at 0.3% compared to this years 2.3% rise over last year.

Taylor Wimpey plc TW updates that the fundamental housing market remained solid in 2017 and the company’s trading performance was good. Housing completions for the year to 31st December rose by a comparatively modest 5% with major factors favouring the industry continuing to be low interest rates and the governments Help to Buy Scheme. Must be great to be in an industry where government helps to keep your market overheated, year after year.The average selling price on private completions grew by 3% save that in Spain it actually fell slightly – presumably no government help there!

Page Group PAGE was held back in quarter four by a miserable performance in the UK which showed a fall of 2.8% in gross profit compared to growth well into double digits in the rest of the world. Those old UK favourites of challenging market conditions and the impact of macro economic factors are held responsible for the UK letting the side down.For the full year 22 countries produced record gross profits with an average rise of 9.9% in what was a record year.Nor only was the UK not one of the 22, it produced, again, a comparatively abysmal perfornance with a fall of 3.8%.

Ted Baker TED produced a good retail performance over Christmas, with retail sales for the 8 weeks from the 12th November to 6th January showing growth of 10.5% at constant currency rates. This was however overshadowed by a particularly strong performance from e commerce which produced growth of 35%.

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UK High Street – Not In Good Health ?

Image result for sainsbury logoSainsbury SBRY hs been forced to cut  its interim dividend by 14% to 3.1p. Despite all the hype about outperforming this and growing market share in challenging conditions etc etc, in the end it was forced to choose between sticking to its strict policy of paying an interim dividend  equal to 30% of the prior full year dividend or leaving it as it was, so it chose to cut. And looking at the figures that comes as no surprise. Underlying earnings per share and profit before tax fell by 22% and 9% respectively whilst on a statutory basis profit before tax slumped from 372m  to 220m and earnings per share collapsed by over 50% from 14.8 pence per share to 7.1p. The Group Chief Executive regards this as a good performance.  Like for like sales for the half year to 23rd September do provide a better picture with rise of 1.6% including fuel.

Image result for burberry logoBurberry Group BRBY is increasing its interim dividend by 10% after delivering a strong first half which double digit underlying profit growth of 17% after revenue growth of 4% on an underlying basis  and 9% reported. It is perhaps significant that Burberry has a strong international presence which will help to protect it from the ills afflicting British retailers.

Image result for national grid logoNational Grid NG maintained strong momentum in the US and continued to deliver a solid performance in the UK during the half year to 30th September. Despite all round falls in profit before tax, operating profit and earnings per share, which senior executives now seem to regard as an essential  before their company can be  described as a success, the interim dividend  is tweaked upwards by 2.1%.

Image result for halfords logoHalfords HFD also felt the effects of the abandonment of High Street shopping by the great British Public with its first half to the 29th September producing all round falls in underlying profit before tax (down 9.8%), basic earnings per share (down 10.8%) and underlying EBITDA (down 3.9). all of which taken together are seen as justification for increasing the interim dividend, in this case by 3%. The outlook for the full year remains unchanged they say, provided of course Christmas shoppers will abandon that nasty habit of shopping online and leave the comfort of their homes to endure huge traffic jams and all the other horrors of reality shopping in winter Britain.

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Sainsbury’s Lesson in Retailing

Sainsbury J. SBRY put in a strong performance during the quarter to the 1st July with retail like for like sales growing by 2.3% and grocery sales by an even larger 3%. Online grocery sales surged by 8%. In General merchandising and Clothing, Sainsbury outperformed the market and this was not a one quarter flash in the pan. Clothing sales rose by 7.2% which is enough to make most clothing retailers turn green with envy, especially as this is the third consecutive quarter in which Sainsbury has stormed ahead on clothing sales, the second half of the previous financial year having produced growth of 15.2%.

The secret to the strong overall performance is put down to three simple things, quality, choice and value. Most of the big retailers would claim the same. The difference with Sainsbury is that it is not just more tired old jargon, it is actually giving it to the customers.

Hunting plc HTG expects to remain loss making as a group during the first half but with positive EBITDA. Its Perforating Systems Business has produced results ahead of management expectations, having benefited from the increase in onshore drilling in the US. Elsewhere conditions in Europe and in US offshore drilling remain weak as a result of the continuing law oil price. Hopes for the future hinge at present on US onshore drilling.

Imagination Technologies IMG completed its restructuring in the year to the 30th April and ended up producing a strong set of results. Group revenue rose by 19% and the adjusted loss per share fell from 9.2p to 0.9p whilst on a reported basis the decline was from 29.8p to 10.1p The impact of the dispute with Apple continues.

Apple no doubt, sees no reason why it should seek a resolution. All it has to do is sit tight and wait for the dawn of the new era when it no longer needs the technology provided for  so long by Imagination Technologies. And if Apple is wrong on that, it won’t matter a jot by then. The damage will have been done and were Apple not a completely scrupulous and honest company, it would probably be able to pick up the bits and pieces and buy them for next to nothing. Meanwhile Imagination continues preliminary discussions with potential bidders for the whole Group.

600 Group plc SIXH now conducts over 60% of its activities in the US with only 12% of group sales being made to the EU in the year to the 1st April. Profits for the year rose by 79% and earnings per share by 50%. Current order books at the year end were 29% up in industrial lasers and 50% in machine tools compared to the same time last year.

Johnson Services Group JSG has traded very well during the half year to the 30th June and expects that results will be slightly ahead of management expectations.

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Sainsbury Slashes Dividend – Clear Growth Strategy Succeeds

Sainsbury J. SBRY slashes its final dividend by 18.5% for the year to 11th March, sees profit before tax fall by 8.2% and basic earnings per share by 26.8%.  And the CEO has the cheek to trumpet it as a pivotal year with a clear growth strategy which has made significant progress. If it did have a clear growth strategy then it was one which obviously failed and management should have the courage to admit it.

Imperial Brands IMB at least remains on planet earth with its first half results,  is raising its interim dividend by 10% and has a CEO who has found the time to invent a new language even if is is one which is unlikely to be understood by most of her employees, shareholders and board members. She appears pleased that it has a Market Repeatable Model deployed in e-vapour, and, best news of all, this is going to be used to drive growth in other “adjacencies”. As if that is not enough they are developing their footprint and “building blu” through investment.

As for the figures themselves, on a constant currency basis, total adjusted operating profit and earnings per share fell fell by 7.6% and 5.9% respectively. Obviously growth of adjacencies may be some time away.

ITV plc ITV announces that Adam Crozier is stepping down both from the board and as CEO, on the 30th June. No explanation is given for the suddenness of the departure. Indeed ITV seems to be pretending that just short of two month is not sudden at all but is long enough for it put in force its well developed succession plan, which is so well developed that they are having to take interim measures to fill the gap.  Only “in due course” will a longer term successor be announced.

At least Paddy Power Betfair PPB has come out with figures, comment and details which make sense and are not hidden in obfuscation. First quarter revenue to the of March rose by 15% in constant currency terms, whilst underlying EBITDA was up by 83% and underlying operating profit by 117%. For a change punters at Cheltenham did not do at all well and  were responsible  for most of the quarters growth, although their fortunes changed for the better at other major sporting events in April.

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Sainsbury Clams Up On Food Sales

Sainsbury (J) plc SBRY Like for like group retail sales at Sainsbury fell by 0.5% in the 9 weeks to the 11th March but very, very strangely it tries to get away with keeping its food sales secret.  Argos did very well with a like for like rise of 4.3% and TU clothing did even better with a market beating rise of 5% but combined like for like sales rose by only 0.3%. So what kept the combined rise so small. Why do food sales not get a mention ? What else is left to account for the overall retail decline but food. Hands up please all those who can remember one of the countries leading supermarkets failing to provide in a trading update, figures for its food sales. It does not take an Einstein to work out that if clothing is up 5% and Argos is up by 4.3%, something must have kept that combined rise so low and also caused the decline at Sainsbury itself.  Why has Sainsbury suddenly gone all shy about food sales.

It claims food sales were solid but it then goes on for paragraph after boring paragraph, explaining its customer philosophy in what is supposed to be a trading update. If food sales were all that solid, one would have expected the details to support the claim, other than news of the introduction of butternut squash waffles and sweet potato tagliatelle. 

M&C Saatchi SAA had an outstanding year in 2016 producing both record revenue and earnings. Revenue rose by 19% or 9% on a like for like basis, earnings per share were up by 21.07% and profit before tax by 18%.  The final dividend is to be increased by 15% and a good start has been made to 2017

Balfour Beatty BBY Claims that its return to profit after two years of losses, is proof that its transformation is well under way. The order book is up by 4% at constant exchange rates and a final dividend of 1.8p per share is to be paid, making a total of 2.7p for the full year. Due acknowledgement is given to the part played in the recovery, by the weakness of sterling.

FW Thorpe TFW had such an exceptionally buoyant first half that it resulted in the “imposition” of high levels of overtime and shift working at its largest subsidiary Thorlux Lighting, which in turn led to higher overheads. Revenue for the six months to the end of December rose by 23.8%, basic earnings per share by by 20.3% and profit before tax by 18%. The interim dividend is increased by 12.5% to 1.35p per share.

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Big News from Sainsbury- Broccoli & Onion Prices Permanently Reduced

Sainsbury J. SBRY has had to admit that during its second quarter to the 24th September, it has, because of price deflation, had to sell more to earn less. Despite like for like transaction and volume growth, like for like retail sales were down by 1.1% and total retail sales by 0.4%. As for the future, it expects to continue to outperform it competitors. The amazing thing about todays trading statement is that it appears to be such a struggle for Sainsburys to find meaningful good news that it is reduced to giving space to permanent price reductions in items such as broccoli and onions. Are things really that bad ?

Stagecoach Group SGC has suffered from weakening UK economic conditions over the past four months and regional bus passenger numbers have been weaker than seen in recent years. Like for like revenue per mile fell by 0.5%. In London the number of contracts with Transport for London was reduced. UK rail and Virgin rail fared better but still suffered from a reduced rate of growth. Problems in North America were even more serious with a 3.3% revenue decline over four months which included a startling 10.1% fall in Megabus revenue.

TUI ag. TUI seems to be showing a clean pair of heels to Thomas Cook and is confident of delivering 12 – 13% growth for the year to the end of September with strong sustained performances from the UK and Cruises. UK revenue and bookings both showed a rise of 5%. Winter revenue is up by 11% and bookings by 5% helped by further strength in the UK which shows revenue up by 29% and bookings by 22% compared to actual falls in both the Nordiscs and Germany.

Moss Bros. MOSB
traded strongly during the 6 months to 31st July with pre tax profits surging by 30% and the interim dividend increased by 6.1% to 1,91p per share. Like for like sales rose by 4.9% on top of which retail gross margins were up by 3.3%. the company expects further good progress in the second half

Clinigen CLIN is increasing its annual dividends by 18% after what it describes as a transformational year in which adjusted gross profit grew by 90%, EBITDA by 73% and earnings per share by 25%. Clinigen claims that it has now become market leader in the management and supply of both unlicenced and clinical trial medicines.

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Sainsbury Slashes Price of Eggs As Sales Fall.

Sainsbury J. SBRY When a major supermarket group has to describe a 0.8% fall in like for like retail sales excluding fuel,  as a solid start to the year, then you know that the industry’s problems are massive and that this particular company and its management  are troubled.  But it has permanently slashed the price of eggs in an attempt to win back market share. Total retail sales for the 12 weeks to 4th June rose by 0.3%.

With Walmart about to start a major price war in its attempts to save ASDA and beat off Lidl, the future looks bleak for all UK supermarkets.

Domino’s Pizza DOM  has gone on the takeover path with the acquisition of a 49% stake in Domino’s Iceland and 45% in Domino’s in Sweden and Norway. Local management is described as strong and will be retained whilst the deal is expected to be income enhancing in 2017. Domino’s has the right to acquire all the remaining shares in the three groups between 2020 and 2023

Sanderson Group SND
is raising its interim dividend by 11% as confidence is boosted by a continued improvement in the general economic environment and by a very strong order book.  Revenue for the 6 months to 31st March rose by 8% and basic earnings per share by 13%. The order book jumped from £2.35m at 30th September 2015 to £3.2m at the end of March.

Workspace Group WKP Claims a very strong financial performance for the year to the end of March, driven by both income and capital growth. Preliminary results show an 8.7% rise in profit before tax and and a proposed 25% increase in the final dividend. Like for like rent per sq. ft rose by 16.4%, leading to a rise of over 28% in net rental income.  The underlying property valuation is up by 20.9%. Net occupancy is down slightly to 90.7%

After repeated promises from ASDA boss Andy Clark that he was here to stay, ASDA has announced that he is in fact stepping down. ASDA owner Walmart has got fed up of ASDA’s poor performance impacting its profits and leading it into a situation where annualised losses exceed £1 billion. The price war to come is expected to create havoc amongst the UKs major supermarket groups, with Sainsbury likely to be one of the two main victims.

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Brand CEO Alan Green discusses Sainsburys (SBRY), Gooch & Housego (GHH) and Brexit with Zak Mir on TipTV Finance show

Brand CEO Alan Green discusses Sainsburys (SBRY), Gooch & Housego (GHH) and Brexit with Zak Mir on TipTV Finance show

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