Pick of the early market news
Overnight, Asian stocks fell after Moody's slashed the ratings of several eurozone states. Worryingly, Moody's also stuck the UK on negative outlook - more chance the UK could lose its cherished triple A credit rating.
We book in first with InterContinental Hotels. The hotel giant has seen net profits in the 12 months up to December surge 57% to $460m while revenues climbed almost 10% to $1.77bn from $1.63bn. Operating profits leapt to $559 million from $444 million - a 26% rise.
"The strength of our brands," said chief exec Richard Solomons, "underpinned by our global systems and scale, delivered 6.2% growth in revenue per available room (RevPAR) in the year. We have continued to outperform the industry in key markets such as the US and Greater China where RevPAR was up 7.9% and 10.7% respectively."
Solomons claimed the company is well positioned to benefit from positive long term industry trends and, in particular, emerging markets. "Our 15% dividend growth reflects the confidence we have in our ability to deliver high quality growth through market share and margin gains."
Water company Pennon Group says its performance remains consistent and should meet management and shareholder expectations. South West Water is continuing its strong performance with capital investment increased substantially over the prior year, Pennon claims.
"The 9,300km sewer network," said the company in a statement, "increased by approximately 50% from 1 October 2011 following the adoption of private sewers and lateral drains. It is anticipated that shareholders will receive appropriate returns for K5 [2010 - 2015] private sewer expenditure spent efficiently through the regulatory pricing mechanisms."
Since 1 October South West Water has signed a £60m facility with the European Investment Bank (EIB) - the second tranche of a £125m loan approved by the EIB towards K5 funding. South West Water has also signed an additional £40m revolving credit facility and £140m of finance lease facilities, the company added.
Lastly, a trading update from paper and packaging player Mondi. Investors can expect underlying profits to be close to those of the same time frame the year before. However for the overall year up to 31 December, underlying operating profits are likely to be considerably higher than the previous year.
Accordingly, Mondi advises it expects basic headline earnings per share (euro cents) to be in the 67 to 72 range (2010 47.0). Full Mondi results will be published 23 February.