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Ian Pollard – Sports Direct #SPD blames falls on past insolvent trading at House of Fraser

Sports Direct Intl SPD saw underlying profit before tax and earnings per share fall by 26.8% and 35.4% respectively in the half year to the 28th October. Never one to be mealy mouthed, Mike Ashley comes out fighting and tries to put the blame fairly and squarely on the previous House of Fraser senior management team for having traded for a long time whilst House of Fraser was insolvent.  This means he claims that they have significant challenges ahead in turning House of Fraser around but nonetheless he  believes it is a fantastic opportunity. Excluding House of Fraser the half year was another successful period producing 15.5% growth in underlying EBITDA. This is impressive he claims in the context of current High Street struggles and proves his strategy is continuing to go from strength to strength.

Ocado Group plc OCDO produced strong retail growth of 12% over the 13 weeks to the 2nd December and double digit growth of 13.1% in average orders per week. The new facilities at Andover and Erith are both performing well. The CEO claims that although 2018 has been a transformative year for Ocado, the story has only just begun.

Bunzl plc BNZL updates that for the year ending 31st December Group revenue is expected to increase by between 8% and 9% at constant exchange rates due to organic growth of more than 4% and a similar impact from net acquisitions.It has recently acquired CM Supply, a food service distributor based in Copenhagen which is forecast to achieve revenue in 2018 of about.£4 million. The proposed acquisition of Volk do Brasil,  has now been cleared by the Brazilian competition authority and is expected to be completed at the beginning of January.

TUI AG TUI Results for the year to 30th September produced the fourth consecutive year of double-digit earnings growth with a 10.9% increase in underlying EBITA1. This was a sustained strong performance in a challenging market, demonstrating, claims TUI, its successful transformation as an integrated provider of holiday experiences. A proposed dividend of 72 cents per share is to be declared, a rise of 10.9% from 2017’s 65 cents per share.

Serco Group plc SRP expects underlying trading profit to grow between 30-40% in 2018 with underlying earnings per share for both 2018 and 2019 likely to be a further 5-10% ahead of current consensus. 2018 is expected to be  another year of strong order intake. Trading in the second half of the year has been better than anticipated and an underlying trading profit within the range of £90-95m. will represent a significant improvement over the £80m which the Board expected at the start of the year,

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Ian Pollard – Fastjet #FJET fights to survive as losses fall

Fastjet FJET expects to become cash flow positive in the second half of 2018 which if it does will give the lie to the rabid and gleefull forecast of a speedy demise announced earlier in the week by one Tom Winnifrith who used to try and earn a living in the Isle of Man.The year to the 31st December saw the operating loss fall by 61%, load factor up by 17% and costs down by 48%. It restructured its operations, which it certainly needed to, in a relatively short space of time. It realigned its network, withdrew from loss making routes, reconfigured its fleet and significantly reduced its cost base. A major milestone was the purchase of the brand from easy Group. It is still Africa’s leading low cost airline.It also announces this morning a proposed capital raising of not less than US$10m

Serco Group SRP updates that profits are now beginning to grow as part of its five year strategy and first half underlying trading profit is expected to increase by about 20% at constant currency rates. The order book continues to be strong and 80% of orders will come from outside the UK. Full year revenue however, is expected to be down largely due to contracts ending in 2017.

Nighthawk Energy HAWK The demise of the company draws close with the approval of the US bankruptcy court to the sale of the company’s assets for US$18m. after which it will be wound up. Nothing is available for shareholders.

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Ian Pollard – Centrica #CNA Chickens Come Home To Roost

Centrica CNA Produced weak second half results, after poor performances in Business Energy and in particular in North America created material uncertainty around the company and resulted in what it admits was a very poor shareholder experience.. A combination of political and regulatory interventions gets part of the blame but Centrica makes no comment as to whether these were justified or not. Despite a 3% rise in revenue, adjusted operating profit fell by 17%, EBITDA by 9% and basic earnings per share by 25%. Statutory operating profit collapsed by 80% and the dividend not surprisingly remains unchanged at 12p per share.

British Am Tobacco BATS is increasing its dividends by 15.2% after a  record year in 2017 which delivered another set of strong financial result. Revenue rose by 37.6% and adjusted diluted earnings per share by 14.9% after completion of the acquisition of Reynolds American in July which it describes as a transfomational deal. On an organic basis cigarette volume fell by 2.6% but that outperformed the market which fell by 3.5%

BAE Sytems BA Delivered a good performance in 2017 and sees an improved outlook for 2018 for defence budgets in a number of markets. Underlying earnings per share rose by 8%, EBITA by 4% and the increase in the final dividend to 13p per share makes a total increase of 2% for the full year.

Moneysupermarket MONY continued to deliver robust results in its core business for the year to 31st December and is increasing final dividend by 6%. Adjusted EBITDA rose by 5%, profit after tax  by 6% and basic earnings per share by 7%.

Go Ahead Group plc GOG produced a good performance in the half year to the 30th December and expectations for the full year have have increased due to one off rail benefits. Results for the rail division are ahead of expectations. Profit before tax rose by 19% and basic earnings per share by 7.3%. The interim dividend remains unchanged.

Serco Group SRP delivered a solid performance in 2017, producing profits at the top end of expectations, in  a difficult market. The year ended with a strong order book.  Despite a 2% drop in revenue for 2017 underlying profit rose by 10% over 2016 and  are expected to contiue to grow in both the current year and in 2019.

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Ian Pollard – Dixons Hit By Challenging Mobile Profitability

Dixons Carphone DC has found UK mobile profitability challenging during the half year to the 28th October to such an extent that it needs addressing which is really as good as admitting that they have not bothered to do so yet. Black Friday trading was at record levels in all geographies, without any explanation as to what a geography is .- at a guess it could mean “country”. Statutory profit before tax  fell from £111m. to £42m. and statutory basic earnings per share were down from 8.1p per share to 3.3p. The day was saved  by a strong performance in electricals with like for like revenue up by 7% creating growing profitability and market share. The interim dividend remain unchanged.

Serco Group SRP predicts strong profit growth for 2018 and 2019 after  strong order intake of over 3bn for the current year. Profit performance for the current year is expected to be around the top end of previous guidance, whilst net debt will be at the lower end.

Wood Group (John) plc WG updates that so far this year its core oil and gas markets have continued to pesent challenges which have been offset by growth elsewhere. The integration of Amec Foster Wheeler which was completed on the 9th October is progressing ahead of schedule, as are planned cost cuts. Customer reaction has been positive and momentum has been gained in contract awards.

Parity Group plc PTY Like for like operating profit for the year to the end of December is expected to be ahead of previous guidance and underlying operating profit is expected to show double digit growth. Net debt has been cut by more than two thirds  over the 18 Months to to the 30th June, down from £7.5m to £2.3m.


Safestyle UK plc SFE Updates that demand has weakened further since the interim results were announced in September and in the three months  to the 30th November sales volume fell by a further 6.8% and sales value by 0.3%. Fourth quarter sales will now be below their already reduced expectations. Margins have been impacted by increases increases in he cost of sales, competition and the disruption which is at present being caused by December’s severe weather. Underlying profit before tax for the full year will be below current market expectattions, down to at lest £15m

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