Pick of the early market news

Stock markets seemed to hold their breath yesterday. The FTSE 100 moved just 0.01% higher overall with incremental moves from the German Dax and Cac 40 (slightly higher and lower, respectively. The Dow Jones finished the day at 13,124 points, down -0.35%.

However Sainsbury's shares climbed 4.52% higher while Weir Group sank -6.21%.
Let's start with DIY retail player Kingfisher, owner of B&Q and Screwfix. Adjusted full-year pre-tax profits rise 20% to £807 million and dividends are up 25% to 8.84p. Overall Group sales climb 3.3% to £10,831m compared to £10,450m in 2010/11.

Kingfisher says French retail profits up 20.0% to £423 million driven by strong sales growth (+3.7% LFL) and continuing margin initiatives. Other international retail profits are up 13.2% to £188 million driven by profit growth in Poland, Turkey, Germany and Russia and lower losses in China.

"Our relentless focus on the self-help initiatives that formed our four year 'Delivering Value' programme has borne fruit, generating a significant increase in the value of our business for shareholders," Kingfisher chief exec Ian Cheshire said. "We have much more to do, but I believe Kingfisher is now well on the way to fulfilling its potential as the industry leader in home improvement."

Next, a pre-close trading statement from United Utilities. Revenue for the full year is expected to increase by between 3% and 4% though underlying operating profits are expected to be lower in the second half of the year. Underlying net finance expense for 2011/12 is expected to be similar to the previous year, United says.

Total regulatory capital expenditure for the year is expected to be up to £700 million, consistent "with the planned investment profile for the 2010-15 period, an increase compared with £608 million invested in the prior year." Group net debt at the year end is expected to be slightly higher than the position at 30 September 2011.

Lastly, Premier Oil. The exploration and production company has announced record profits after tax of US$171.2 million (2010: US$129.8 million) with operating cash flow of US$485.9 million (2010: US$436.0 million), an increase of 11.4%.

"Our exploration and acquisition teams are focused on accessing further profitable growth opportunities," said chief exec Simon Lockett. "We are in our strongest ever financial and operational position to take advantage of such opportunities as they emerge."

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