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Weak Sterling Continues to Hit Primark

Associated British Foods ABF expects excellent progress in adjusted operating profit and earnings per share for the half year to the 4th March. Primark sales are expected to be11% ahead at constant currency rates and 21% ahead at actual exchange rates but on a like for like basis UK Primark sales will show growth of only 2%, positively pedestrian compared with past performances. Most of the groups extra profit will come in the current half and there are warnings that sterling’s weakness last year will produce greater margin decline in Primark in the second half of this year..

In grocery, revenue and operating profit are expected to be ahead of last year and sugar is expected to be well ahead.

Bunzl BNZL is increasing its dividend for the year by 11% after producing a set of strong results for the year to the end of December and continuing 24 years of unbroken dividend growth. Statutory operating profit and profit before tax each rose by 12% and basic earnings per share by 14%.

Hiscox HSX admits that its strong results for the year to the end of December have been flattered by foreign exchange movements, as well as by a strong investment returns. Profit before tax, with an increase of 64% grew to record levels and the final dividend is being increased by 15% to 27.5p. Gross written premiums for the year grew by 23.6%

Persimmon PSN continued to outperform in 2016 and is to repay shareholders a further 25p per share on the 31st March as a first interim dividend for 2016. That is in addition to the already agreed second interim dividend of 110p. per share which will be paid on the 3rd July. Underlying profit before tax for 2016 rose by 23% on revenue for the year which was up by 8%. Underlying basic earnings per share rose by 19%. The average selling price during the year was increased by what for housebuilders is the very modest amount of 3.8%. Forward sales at the year end showed an increase of 9%

Rotork plc ROR despite a “currency tailwind” of 10%, 2016 profit before tax still slumped by 20% and earnings per share by 19.9%. The trading environment did stabilise in the second half but any near term growth in the nergy market is expected to be modest, reflecting those sombre thoughts, the full year dividend is raised by 1%.

Dechra Pharm plc DPH All products produced sales growth in the half year to 31st December and growth in recently acquired businesses, exceeded expectations. Total group revenue was up by 34.7% at constant exchange rates or 55.9% and actual exchange rates. Underlying operating profit rose by 28.6% and EBITDA by 27.7%

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