The Footsie opened slightly higher on Thursday as the markets digested a host of results, with heavyweights such as Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Capita, Centrica, RSA Insurance and British American Tobacco (BATS) reporting their full-year results this morning.
In economic news, European Union Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn is expected to reveal later this morning the revised forecasts for growth this year. Given the weakening economic conditions throughout the region, estimates are widely expected to be cut. While waiting for the official data, Il Sole 24 Ore has already leaked some of the figures. The Eurozone is expected to grow by 0.3% in 2012, down from the previous estimate of 0.5%.
RBS RISES STRONGLY AFTER RESULTS
The biggest news of the day centred around RBS which rose strongly early on despite widening losses in 2011. Provisions for mis-selling of payment protection insurance schemes and Greek debt ensured part-nationalised lender made a pre-tax loss of £766m in 2011, compared with a loss of £399m in 2010, though the core business was profitable at the operating level.
"RBS Core profits - the ongoing bank - were £6bn, comparing well with others and representing a return on equity of 10.5%. The reduction in our balance sheet since 2008 now exceeds £700bn with all other 'safety' measures improving strongly," said Group Chief Executive Stephen Hester. Sector peers Barclays and Lloyds were also in demand, with the latter's results due out tomorrow.
Business outsourcing group Capita was a high riser after saying that it expects revenue growth to accelerate in 2012 after a "reasonable" level of growth last year. Turnover grew by 7% from £2,744m to £2,930m in the year ended December 31st, slightly ahead of Panmure Gordon's forecast of £2,900m.
Gas and electricity provider Centrica was out of favour despite saying that it had put in a resilient performance in challenging conditions in 2011. Revenue edged up to £22.8bn from £22.4bn in 2010, ahead of market expectations of £21.9bn.
Insurance giant RSA received premiums worth £8.1bn during 2011, an 8% rise on 2010 at constant exchange rates. Profit before tax came in at £613m, a gain of 29% on the previous year, however, it was below forecasts made by analysts at Credit Suisse who had expected profit before tax of £719.2m.
BATS fell despite seeing revenues rise 3% to £15,399m in 2011. The company said that volumes fell 0.4% during the year, and expressed concerns about various proposals around the world to introduce so called "plain packaging", which BATS argues will play into the hands of criminal gangs which smuggle cigarettes.
Meanwhile, consumer packaging firm Rexam has continued its strong performance after reporting yesterday that underlying profit before tax jumped 15% in 2011. Shares surged 7% on Wednesday.
FTSE 250: REDROW UP AS PROFITS JUMP
House builder Redrow saw a strong rise in profits in the first half and seems cautiously optimistic about the housing market during the rest of the year. Pre-tax profit jumped 80% from £8.5m to £15.3m, ahead of expectations of £14m (Panmure Gordon).
Oil and gas producer Salamander Energy rose after reporting the successful appraisal of Block L27/43 at the Dong Mun discovery, onshore Northeast Thailand.
Among the fallers was construction, services and property group Kier which this morning unveiled a 4.6% fall in total revenue for the six months ended December 31st.
FTSE 100 - Risers
Capita (CPI) 713.50p +3.63%
Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS) 28.27p +3.44%
Vedanta Resources (VED) 1,409.00p +2.10%
Lloyds Banking Group (LLOY) 36.02p +1.71%
Randgold Resources Ltd. (RRS) 7,355.00p +1.52%
Serco Group (SRP) 547.00p +1.48%
Old Mutual (OML) 159.10p +1.47%
Cairn Energy (CNE) 351.50p +1.21%
Barclays (BARC) 242.00p +1.17%
Aggreko (AGK) 2,180.00p +1.02%
FTSE 100 - Fallers
RSA Insurance Group (RSA) 109.70p -2.49%
International Consolidated Airlines Group SA (IAG) 163.80p -0.85%
Consumer packaging giant Rexam said results since the start of January have been in line with company expectations and, while volume growth has been slower than predicted towards the end of the quarter, it expects to make further progress this year. [18 Apr '13]
Vodafone's shares surged following reports that Verizon and AT&T were working on a break-up bid for the British firm. The two US telecoms groups are said to be considering a deal that would see them pay a 40% premium to Vodafone's share price at Monday's close, sources told FT Alphaville. [2 Apr '13]
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