Pick of the early market news

Another push up for the FTSE 100. The index climbed +1.18% overall to 5,859 points yesterday with strides made by Hammerson (up +5.46) and Petrofac (up +5.28%).

Optimism on a Greek deal spurred the French Cac 40 +2.54% higher while the Dow Jones climbed +0.55% to 12,907 points. Meanwhile the Nikkei Average has hit a 7-month high.
First off, Old Mutual. The asset management operator has reported lower full-year pre-tax profits of £994m pounds compared with £1.09bn in 2010. Adjusted operating profits have climbed to £1,515m compared to £1,371m in 2010. Earnings per share rise 13% to 15.7p.

"This has been a year," said group chief exec Julian Roberts, "of strategic and operational delivery for Old Mutual despite the tough macro-economic environment. We have produced strong financial results and have taken significant steps in executing our strategic plan."

"We have exposure to fast growing emerging markets, which we expect to continue to perform well in 2012, and specialist, low-risk businesses in Europe where we also anticipate growth albeit in tougher market conditions. These are markets in which we have significant expertise and where we see the opportunity for profitable growth."

Next, Aggreko. The temporary power operator claims revenues of £1.39bn for the year to end-December (2010: £1.23bn), 14% up on 2010. Trading profits came in at £338m (2010: £312m), 8% better than 2010 with the company claiming strong performance in new contracts from Asia and Latin America.

Underlying growth in revenues climbed 22% and trading profit growth pushed 26% higher. "The Group," said chairman Philip Rogerson, "also achieved solid headline growth despite the fact that 2010 was an extraordinary year for our revenues from major sporting events, with the FIFA World Cup, the Vancouver Winter Olympics and the Asian Games."

Lastly, half-year numbers from Wetherspoon. The pub company claims like-for-like sales rose 2.1% higher in the six months up to 22nd January 2012. Operating profit before exceptional items climbed to £53.1m (2011: £49.6m). However the picture since the company's 18 January pre-close statement has been "disappointing" with like-for-like sales in the six weeks to 4 March going into reverse - an 0.7% decline.

"As previously stated," said chairman Tim Martin, "we expect the operating profit margin before exceptionals to decline in the second half of this financial year due to continuing cost increases, with the current quarter particularly affected. We are, therefore, slightly more cautious about the potential outcome for the current financial year."

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