Stocks are seeking direction this morning as traders pause for breath following yesterday's big gains
Supermarket chain Morrisons' focus on value helped it post sales and profits ahead of expectations in the half year to 31 July. Pre-tax profits rose to £449m from £412m the previous year. Turnover climbed to £8.7bn from £8.1bn, while like-for-like sales rose by 2.2%.
Analysts at Panmure Gordon had predicted profits of about £440m and like-for-like sales growth of 1.9%, while Nomura had predicted like-for-like sales growth of 2%.
But Argos and Homebase group Home Retail is the retailer hogging the limelight, rising nearly 10% even after it saw like-for-like (LFL) sales in the former dive 8.6% from a year earlier in the 13 weeks to 27 August, while the latter saw LFL sales fall 3.1% year-on-year. The company said the performance during the quarter was in line with expectations.
House builder Redrow is another in demand. Profit before tax surged to £25.3m in the 12 months to the end of June from £0.7m the year before, on revenue that grew 14% to £452.7m. Legal completions in the year increased to 2,626 from 2,587 last year, while the average selling price of private homes rose 12.5% to £174,1000 from £154,800 the year before.
Property company British Land has closed and drawn funds on a $480m US private placement bond issue, the largest US private placement transaction by a UK Real Estate Investment Trust. The placement, originally launched at $200m, was three times oversubscribed, prompting the company to increase the size of the issue.
Turning back to retail, closing unprofitable shops helped homewares and ladies fashion retailer Laura Ashley post a rise in profits in the half year to 30 July. The stock is posting double-digit percentage gains. Pre-tax profits excluding exceptional items climbed to £7.3m from £5.7m over the same period the previous year. Total sales climbed by just 0.1% to £135.3m, but the closures of unprofitable shops helped drive like-for-like sales up by 3.5%. The interim dividend was doubled from last year to 1p.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Marks & Spencer Group (MKS) 325.50p +3.73%
Glencore International (GLEN) 419.00p +3.27%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 502.00p +3.25%
Tullow Oil (TLW) 1,194.00p +1.96%
Kingfisher (KGF) 239.90p +1.61%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 22.76p +1.34%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG) 164.50p +1.29%
Fashion and furnishings retailer Laura Ashley reported a decline in like-for-like sales in the first 18 weeks of the current financial year as a strong performance from home furnishing was overshadowed by weak fashion sales. [13 Jun '13]
Home furnishings and fashion retailer Laura Ashley said half year pre-tax profit increased nearly 14 per cent and while it remains mindful of the tough retail it is confident of further progress in the second half. [12 Sep '12]
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