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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: TUI Benefits From Hot European Summer

TUI AG TUI updates that the year to the 30th September will be the fourth consecutive year of double digit growth in underlying EBITA and unlike Thomas Cook it claims to have benefited from the sustained period of hot weather in Northern Europe which produced further growth  The only impact of the hot weather was that it prevented TUI from outperforming. Cook must have suffered from a different form of hot weather.

Zoo Digital Group plc ZOO expects to report revenues in the first half of the financial year at least 17% higher than last year.and is confident that the second half will be strong.

Clinigen Group CLIN is increasing its final dividend for the year to the 30th June by 12% after a jump in profit before tax from £14.1m to £35.9m. Revenue increased by 26%, adjusted EBITDA by 17% and adjusted earnings per share by 10%. Another year of good progress is expected for 2018 – 19

DCC plc DCC expects that after strong first half growth, group operating profit for the six months to the 30th September will be well ahead of last year.

Mitchells & Butlers MAB updates that sales have strengthened since the last update on 2nd August. In the 8 weeks to 22 September like-for-like sales grew by 2.2% following the period of sustained hot weather and the World Cup . 7 new sites have been opened and 232 conversions and remodels completed in the financial year to date.  Total sales have increased by 0.5% in the year to date.

Saga plc SAGA Profit before tax for the six months to the 31st July rose by 3.2 % as the results benefited from lower operating expenes. At the same time customer numbers rose back to the level of the first half of 2017, helped by a rise of 19% in Motor & Home New Business. The interim dividend remains unchanged at 3p per share.

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Ian Pollard – Greggs #GRG Finds Trading Environment Challenging

Greggs GRG found that the trading environment in March and April became challenging and although May has started more strongly, the company is now cautious about the sales outlook for the remainder of the year. Total sales in the first 18 weeks of the year rose by 4.7% but like for like sales in company managed shops could only manage 1.3%, compared to last years 3.7%

Compass Group CPG claims another strong half for the 6 months to the 31st March, with good revenue growth and excellent progress in North America where organic revenue rose by 7.3%. The UK  also enjoyed good growth. setting the lead in Europe.The interim dividend is to be increased by 9.8%, matching the increase in organic earnings per share.On a statutory basis revenue and earnings per share showed falls of 0.8% and 2.7% respectively. For the full year organic growth above the middle of the 4-6% range, is expected. 

Imperial Brands plc IMB admits that it regularly reviews not just its dividends but its dividend policy to ensure that shareholders are kept happy. The result for the half year to the 31st March is that the interim dividend is increased by 10%, after falls all round in the adjusted and operating figures. The largest declines were 26.9% in basic earnings per share and 7.6% in reported operating profit.On an adjusted basis, earnings per share were down by 6.2% and tobacco volume by 2.1%.  Net tobacco revenue fell by 5% and adjusted tobacco operating profit by 8%. The Chief Executive describes this as good progress.

TUI AG TUI Second quarter turnover rose by 6.3% with Hotels & Resorts and Cruises leading the way with rises of 15.2% and 17.1% respectively. The total rise in all segments came out at 4.9% but the net loss for the quarter rose by 13.7% and for the half year by 18.5%. This is described as a good first half performance and expectations for the full year are for growth of at least 10% in underlying EBITA

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Ian Pollard – More World Beating Technology From The UK

Oncimmune ONC bears witness to the world leading position which it is carving out for itself in medical technology.  with the half year to the 30th November seeing excellent progress being made  with its cancer detection technology which will detect cancers up to four years earlier than other methods and will do so by means of a simple blood test

The half year produced revenue of only £0.1m from early sales of its lung test kit but far more importantly for the future it took serious strides in establishing its technology and products in world markets.An exclusive distribution agreement and product development agreement was concluded in China, which included a minimum £10m. equity investment in the company plus a minimum £15.7m in royalties. Further agreements have been reached in twelve countries with minimum sales commitments amounting to £25.6m and in the US a preliminary distribution partnership has been entered into with a major US company. In the UK over 12,000 patients have been recruited for a lung cancer screening trial.

Liver test kits have commenced commercial sales and early lung cancer kits have received minimum payment guarantees of £7.9m over the next five years in the Asia Pacific region, excluding China, plus approximately £2m in Europe

TUI AG TUI has made a good start to the year with first quarter turnover rising by 8.1% and the net loss down from 81.6m to 58.7m. On an underlying like for like basis EBIT was up by 35.1% and net debt was halved. Expectations are that underlying EBITA growth for 2018 will be at least 10%.

RWS Holdings RWS The financial year to the end of September saw the fourteenth successive year of growth in sales, profits and dividends and RWS is confident of further substantial progress in 2018, when, despite currency headwinds in the US it aims to consolidate its global leading position in its chosen sectors. The integration of Monrovia which it acquired on the 3rd November will continue and the current financial year has started well.

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Smaller Companies Show How To Export

TUI AG TUI After a good start to the half year, TUI reiterates its forecast of at least 10% growth in underlying  EBITA for the full year 2016-17.Half year turnover rose by 3.3% or 8.2% on a constant currency basis and customer numbers were up by 3%.

Victrex VCT delivered a strong first half performance in the six months to 31st March and is increasing its interim dividend by 4%. Sales volume in the first half rose by 5% and revenue by 12%, or 4% on a constant currency basis. Profit before tax rose by 5% and cash is up by 90% to £86m. The positive momentum is continuing into the second half.

Eco Animal Health EAH is likely to exceed market expectations for revenue and to exceed significantly those for pre tax profits for the year to 31st March.


Mortice Limited MORT Following strong growth in all parts of the business, it is anticipated that financial results for the year to 31st March will be materially ahead of market expectations. Revenue rose by 35% and the company sees tremendous scope for further organic and acquisitive growth.

Diploma plc DPLM is increasing its interim dividend by 13% after enjoying strong underlying growth boosted by currency  tailwinds in the six months to the end of March. Adjusted profit before tax for the half year rose by 22% and adjusted earnings per share by 23%, with revenue up by 21%. Currency benefits from the weak pound are not expected to be as strong in the second half.

Dignity plc DTY has made a strong start to the year, with all parts of the business performing well in the first quarter to the end of March. average income has been robust and overheads are well controlled. Further acquisitions have been made and there will be more during the remainder of the year.

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Flybe Full of Grumbles

Flybe FLYB The airline industry is in for a rough time if Flybe’s grumbles are anything to go by. On the other hand reading todays update for the quarter to the end of March does read a bit like a management clutching at straws. It claims to have suffered from airline overcapacity, coupled with weak demand in an uncertain consumer environment and price competition from railways. to counter these problems it has reduced its year on year seat capacity growth to 10%.  Passenger revenue rose by 9.8% compared to 13.5% for quarter 3. The fleet will be reduced by the return of all 6 end of lease aircraft in the second half of the financial year. Summer trading is in line with expectations.

Alliance Pharma APH The integration of 27 products acquired in December 2015 from Sinclair Pharma has been completed without a hitch, effectively doubling the size of APH. Confirmation is provided by the results fore the year to 31st December which saw revenue and EBITDA both grow by 102%, with pre tax profit following suite at 103%. The final dividend is increased by 10% making the total rise for the year, also 10%. APH’s philosophy, with its “can do” approach, is to become the rising star of European specialty pharma. The directors intend to maintain a progressive dividend policy.

TUI Ag TUI expects at least 10% growth in underlying EBITA  for the current financial year. Winter revenue rose by 9% and customer numbers were up by 5%, with 97% of the winter programme sold. 48% of the summer programme has been sold so far, with revenue also up by 9% and customers by 4%

Johnston Press JPR saw sign of an improving trend emerge in quarter 4 which has continued into the new financial year, with a rise in the circulation figures of its key titles. for the year to the end of December adjusted revenue fell by 6% but with quarter 4 showing a rise of 1%, as the sector continued to suffer from revenue volatility and structural change. 2015’s statutory like for like profit before tax of £2.2m was turned into a loss of £300m for 2016 and basic earnings per share fell from 10p to a loss of 234p per share.

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TUI In Line For 2016 Gringlish and Jargonish Prize

TUI AG (TUI) appears to have ignored the basic principle that its financial reports should be written in a language which is understandable by a good number of its shareholders. At least the tables are clear in the third quarter interim report which shows turnover down by 5.7%, net profit up by 116.4% and like for like earnings per share rising by 140%.

9 months  figures show turnover down 0.9%, net profit down by 70.1% and earnings per share by 77.1%. Trading for this summer is expected to be in line but winter bookings are already up by 8% on top of which, average selling prices have been increased by 5%.

The reasons for what it describes as a good 3rd quarter performance are given as;

Becoming more “content centric”, having a balanced portfolio of “desti-nations”, being well positioned to deal with changes in the geopolitical and macro economic environment (presumably getting tourists back into geopolitical areas like Turkey and north Africa “), having selective control of all stages in the value chain and a vertically integrated resilient model which is delivering merger synergies.

That is really going to be difficult to beat when it comes to the year end Obfuscation Prize.

What is wrong with plain old fashioned basic English. It might even attract more shareholders to what seems to be a fairly successful company with tight management.

Page Group PAGE is pleased with its half year performance to the 30th June but is well aware of the uncertainties in the UK caused by Brexit. Profit before tax rose by 16%, basic earnings per share by 18.7% and revenue by 8.6%. The interim dividend is being increased by 4.2% in addition to which a special dividend of 6.46p per share is also to be paid.

Cineworld CINE saw first half growth in admissions, box office revenue and retail sales and strong growth in ROW ( Rest Of The World) Group revenue rose by 6.8%, and EBITDA by 7.2%.  Despite that, profit before tax fell by 34.6% and profit after tax by 33.9%, one of the main causes being currency movements which hit it with an adverse swing of £15m. compared to half 1 2015. The interim dividend is to be increased by 4% to 5.2p per share.

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National Express Beats The Germans For Punctuality

National Express NEX With an 11% rise in revenue during the first four months of the year, taking into account acquisitions and the start of German rail operations in December, National Express has enjoyed a strong start to 2016. Passenger numbers have grown and revenue has increased across all divisions. In Spain passenger numbers have grown by 5%, in Morocco they are up by 11%, whilst North America has had the best start ever to a year. In Germany the company is even beating the punctuality record of the previous rail operator.

William Hill WMH has had a tough start to the year as the wrong horses kept winning, especially at Cheltenham and the wrong European football teams kept losing. Net revenue for the 17 weeks to the 26th April was down heavily in some areas and only the strength of the US market with a rise of 46% helped to save the day and reduce the overall net revenue decline to 3%. Even online revenue was down by 11%.

TUI AG TUI The half year report delivered by the executive Board for the 6 months to the 31st March reads like an insult to the English language. It is now focused on becoming content concentric and vertically integrated as well as continuing to deliver merger synergies, other synergies, delivering against growth levers, operating in all stages of the value chain and benefiting from joint management of occupancy which also delivered further synergies. The actual figures are at least better than the Boards communication skills. It expects at least a 10% rise in underlying EBITA for this year and next and so far this year the rise comes in at 16.3%. Summer 2016 is in line with expectations. Just as long as they keep centric and synergised, it might actually turn out to be a good year.

Barratt Developments BDEV continues to benefit from the boom conditions created by the availability of mortgages and admits that it is focused on obtaining selling prices as high as possible. Market conditions for the 19 weeks to the 8th May have been strong, with good levels of demand creating a rise of 9.7% in forward orders. There are excellent land opportunities available and Barratt expects a significant improvement in performance for the full year.

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