Pick of the early market news

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There's plenty of fizz at soft drink-maker AG Barr this morning, with turnover up despite the poor summer. We've got news too from the Daily Mail and General Trust, estate agent Winkworth, pub chain Mitchells and Butlers and suit specialist Moss Bros.Irn-Bru maker AG Barr reports total turnover increased by 4% to £124m over the six months to 30 July, with second quarter revenue up 5.1%. Profit before deductions was just ahead of last year at £16.2m, earnings per share rose 6.9% to 32.44p and the interim dividend is up 8.1% at 7.30p.

Roger White, the chief executive, said: "This is a particularly positive result given the challenging comparatives we faced in the first half of the year, the relatively poor summer weather, which has impacted the soft drinks market and a competitive market backdrop."

Revenue at the Daily Mail and General Trust is up 1% over the year to date according to a trading update posted this morning. The B2B side of the business is doing particularly well, with growth of 9%. The consumer business has been hit, with revenues down 3%, but there's been some pick-up in advertising.

Chief executive Martin Morgan has, however, issued a profits warning. "Despite our continued focus on operational efficiency, the weak consumer advertising environment means that full year Group operating profit will be lower than last year, he said.

Estate agent Winkworth reports sales up 6.5% to £1.79m in the six months to 30 June, generating a pre-tax profit of £564,846. But chief executive Dominic Agace warned that low sales volumes are expected to lead to further branch closures.

Pub group Mitchells and Butlers reports like-for-like sales up 2.7% in the first 51 weeks of the year. Sales growth of 0.5% for the latest quarter made it 34 quarters in a row in which the firm has posted growth, but the statement describes current trading conditions as "challenging".

Moss Bros reports like-for-like sales are up 15.4% for the half year to 30 July. Pre-tax profit is running ahead of expectations at £2.2m, with gross margin up 2.7% to 62.6%. CEOI Brian Brick said the board remains "confident in our strategy and ability to drive profitable growth."

The FTSE 100 traded across a 175 point range yesterday on another turbulent day, before closing up 22.56 points at 5089.37. If ever the fact that it's confidence and transferred value, rather than the creation of value, that we're looking at when we examine market trends it came yesterday, as the market ebbed and flowed on the basis of one rumour after another.

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