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UK TRADING UPDATE SUMMARY: IG Design And Others Warn Of Covid-19 Hits

Wed, 25th Mar 2020 11:51

(Alliance News) - The following is a round-up of updates by UK companies on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, issued on Wednesday and not separately reported by Alliance News:

IG Design Group PLC - greeting cards - Demand reduces during March due to continued spread of Covid-19. Manufacturing and distribution in UK and Europe suspended, US operations partially halted, but Australia remains fully operational. Unable to quantify impact on future orders, but has "substantial" order book already for Christmas 2020. Assessing dividend for year ending March, update to be given in April. Balance sheet "strong", board confident on managing situation.

Cairn Homes PLC - house builder - Reports a significant slowdown in footfall and face-to-face enquiries for new homes. Sales to be hurt "at least" in the near-term and possibly for an indeterminate time. Withdraws final dividend for 2019 of 2.75 euro cents and postpones share buyback, of which EUR14 million was outstanding. Cairn suspends all guidance for 2020.

Volution Group PLC - ventilation products - Suspends interim dividend of 1.71 pence amid Covid-19 uncertainty. Taking other measures to contain costs and protect cash position. Lockdowns to have "major" impact on demand across geographies, but financial position "strong".

Morgan Sindall PLC - brownfield regeneration - Cancels final dividend for 2020 of 38p per share, may pay second interim dividend later in 2020 in lieu of final dividend depending on visibility of Covid-19 impact. Financial position "strong". Operations disrupted in multiple areas. Will be a "material" impact on profitability. Withdraws guidance as quantum is difficult to assess.

Headlam Group PLC - floor coverings - Suspends planned 2019 final dividend of 17.45p per share due to uncertain environment. Will consider increasing 2020 interim dividend to compensate, or make special payout during 2020. Balance sheet "strong" and has significant liquidity headroom. Trading has been resilient but expects imminent downturn in orders, impossible to give guidance. All UK sites closed aside from Colehill national distribution centre. Delays opening of new Ipswich centre.

Victoria PLC - floor coverings - Says Covid-19 will not pose "existential threat". Likely to face lower demand, not possible to give earnings guidance for financial year ending March 2021. Performance for financial 2020 to meet expectations. Has low gearing, "strong" balance sheet, taken precautions to protect liquidity.

Halfords Group PLC - auto parts and bicycles - Trading in the near-term to be "severely" impacted. Recent trading has been "very strong" in some areas, but meeting profit expectations dependent on sales in next two weeks. Believes sales will drop "sharply", annual pretax profit could miss expectations. Not possible to make future guidance, but will suspend dividends.

Staffline Group PLC - recruitment - Seeing varying demand in different segments. Food sector has high demand for recruitment, but others, such as leisure and manufacturing, slumping. Too early to assess impact of changes in demand mix. In talks with lenders over covenants, has working capital it needs to respond to changes.

Calisen PLC - energy infrastructure - Suspends all non-essential smart meter installations and field services. Withdraws installation guidance for 2020, not possible to give new guidance. Lack of installations will reduce costs, does not expect major revenue or earnings impact.

Vitec Group PLC - cameras - Expects significantly more disruption than previously guided in late February. Difficult to assess impact, taking action to reduce costs. Performance to be well below previous expectations. No longer planning on paying final dividend for 2019, but says long-term prospects strong.

Vp PLC - forklifts - UK revenue in latter part of March declines, expects this trend to continue. International markets also constrained. Believes full-year results will be satisfactory but behind market expectations. Taking action to reduce costs, can quickly reduce capital expenditure.

Michelmersh Brick Holdings PLC - bricks, tiles and pavers - Defers dividends until Covid-19 situation becomes more clear and business returns to normal. Deliveries to all plants suspended. Says financial position "strong", believes "very well" positioned to see off downturn longer than UK government predicts. All guidance withdrawn.

Wilmington PLC - business services - External impacts on trading "now material", with travel restrictions hitting ability to run conferences, events, training courses. Cancels interim dividend of 4.2p. Has "significant" liquidity, monitoring balance sheet.

Wincanton PLC - supply chain solutions - Logistics activity high in recent weeks, particularly in groceries, record demand in some sectors. Balance sheet strengthened recently, has "very substantial" headroom. However, mulling future of dividends due to uncertainty on future of trading and receipt of payments. No guidance for year ending March 2021, underlying profit to meet expectations in soon-to-end year.

Clipper Logistics PLC - retail logistics - Receives "notable" further requests, especially in groceries, for logistics services. Contract mechanisms likely to protect profit, cash generation, Covid-19 impact "modest" so far.

Ramsdens Holdings PLC - pawnbroker - Closes all stores following UK government directive. Has "strong" balance sheet, welcomes support from UK government.

McBride PLC - household products - Cancels interim dividend of 0.8p per share to manage cash position. Order levels rising in most regions for products such as bleach and disinfectants. Not clear whether this is for stockpiling or extra consumption. Factories open, currently able to meet demand. Extra revenue to be tempered by reduced efficiency.

Mears Group PLC - housing and social care - Decides not to pay final dividend due to importance of managing cash. In talks with debt providers over increasing facilities, gets "strong" support. No immediate requirement for extra headroom, but could need it if emergency prolongs. No financial guidance possible due to uncertainty, but public health emergency means extra demand for services.

Pennant International Group PLC - engineering software - Says review meetings for projects, often linked to milestone payments, cannot go ahead. May also struggle to get access to facilities to deliver services, and contract awards may be delayed. Reviewing cash management, "extremely difficult" to give any guidance.

Walker Greenbank PLC - wallpaper and fabrics - To preserve cash, will not be paying final dividend for year ended January. Factories in UK close, as do showrooms in London, New York, Paris. Trading in new year had started well, but Covid-19 now hurting outlook. Withdraws guidance, unable to quantify impact.

Gama Aviation PLC - aviation support services - Covid-19 likely to "severely" impact trading, demand for services reducing rapidly, but unable to give any guidance. Taking measures to protect cash, including postponed all non-essential spending.

Henry Boot PLC - construction - Has "very strong" financial base, is taking measures to preserve cash. Willing to close sites if required, construction sites likely to be shutdown. Says trading in first two months of 2020 has been marginally ahead of expectations. Has net cash position of GBP47 million.

easyHotel PLC - hotelier - Closes hotels in Barcelona and Nice as well as in UK, meaning entire estate is now shut. Taking measures to protect position, financially "robust". Trading for year ending September to be well below expectations, but guidance cannot be given.

Fastjet PLC - African airline - Suspends all Zimbabwean flights from Friday to April 16 following government order to minimise travel. FedAir unit seeing significant deferral of bookings.

Intelligent Ultrasound Group PLC - medical software - Implements cost-saving measures to enable earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation to meet expectations. Medium, long-term outlook is unchanged. Unlikely to meet target of first AI revenue in first-half 2021.

Norish PLC - warehousing - Dividend of 1.9 euro cents cancelled, annual general meeting planned for May 21 also postponed, no new date.

Ilika PLC - batteries - Does not expect any material impact from Covid-19 on trading, despite pilot line at University of Southampton closing temporarily. Liaising with supply partners to ensure continued operations.

Oakley Capital Investments Ltd - investment fund - Has "strong" balance sheet, no leverage, comfortable with cash position. Net asset value likely to be hurt, but scale of this unknown. Valuations of portfolio firms likely to be hurt, but Oakley's investments should be more resilient.

SolGold PLC - gold explorer - Temporarily suspends site work in Ecuador following order to stay at home from government. Teams working from home, Alpala feasibility study continuing externally. Cannot give timeframe on work suspension.

Firestone Diamonds PLC - diamond miner - Puts Liqhobong mine in Lesotho on care & maintenance. Decision follows 21-day lockdown ordered in South Africa, which surrounds Lesotho.

Kropz PLC - African phosphate explorer - Does not expect adverse impact from South Africa lockdown, can continue to progress work with all staff working from home.

Alien Metals Ltd - copper, zinc, lead and silver miner - Work continues on all operations despite Covid-19, but work programmes being reviewed. Update to come in coming weeks.

Katoro Gold PLC - African gold miner - All activity on-site in South Africa put on hold, staff working from home. No further guidance given.

Goldplat PLC - gold recovery - Operations temporarily curtailed due to Covid-19. Kilimapesa gold plant under care & maintenance, South African operations to stop from Thursday for 21 days. Debt is low by industry standards, confident will have strength to see of downturn.

Red Rock Resources PLC - gold, copper and oil explorer - Investee Jupiter Mines Ltd has been forced to close the Tshipi manganese mine in South Africa. Operations in Kenya operating normally, but further government restrictions to come.

Victoria Oil & Gas PLC - African gas producer - No significant impact on operations in Cameroon, but focused on cost control and cash discipline.

By George Collard; georgecollard@alliancenews.com

Copyright 2020 Alliance News Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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