Updates from Burberry, Ocado and FirstGroup


A better day for the FTSE 100 yesterday, ending +1.86% higher at 5,403 points. The biggest risers were RBS, up +5.53%, and Weir Group, up +5.26%. The German Dax also rose sharply, by +1.65%.

Overnight Asian markets have taken a tumble with Japan's Nikkei giving up -1.5% on Bank of Japan easing worry; the South Korean Kospi lost -1.4%.
We kick off with bags-to-raincoats-and-fragrances player Burberry. The Brit fashion brand claims full-year revenues climbed +24% to £1,857m; Burberry has also hiked its dividend by +25% to 25p for the year ending 31 March. Adjusted profit before tax is up +26% to £376m; reported PBT is up +24% to £366m it claims.

"Burberry has completed another successful year," says boss Angela Ahrendts, "with revenue up 24% and adjusted profit before tax up 26%. An intense focus," she went on, "by our global teams on business, brand and culture in recent years has resulted in a strong foundation across channels, regions and products."

Next, a trading statement from Ocado. Ocado claims it continues to see sales growth increasing as demand for online grocery shopping continues. Operational performance at its Hatfield customer fulfilment centre "continues to improve", now operating at record levels of capacity it claims.

The Ocado Board adds it is "encouraged by the progress of the business so far this year." Growth in sales increased it says "and it is expected that year on year gross sales growth will be approximately +13% for Q2." (Q2 being the 12 weeks to 13 May.)

"A number of new enhancements," said the trading statement, "have gone live in both Q1 and Q2 which will enable us to continue to expand our capacity, significantly extend our range, and improve our operational efficiency and customer service performance."

Finally, full-year results for FirstGroup. Revenues have climbed 4.1% and operating profits have leapt +45.2% to £448m with profits before tax climbing +121% to £279.9m. First Group claims UK Rail gave a solid performance though it is warning on bus margins for 2012/13.

These are likely to be "significantly affected by deteriorating economic conditions", particularly in the North of England and Scotland and reduced funding to the industry.

"In response we are accelerating a comprehensive plan that will deliver sustainable growth in revenue and patronage and improved returns. This includes repositioning our UK Bus portfolio through a programme of business and asset disposals to focus on those areas where the greatest potential for growth exists."

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