Updates from Kingfisher, Halfords and Tate & Lyle

More Eurozone stress and global growth worries saw the FTSE 100 end -1.74% down yesterday. The biggest fallers were a rash of natural resource companies while Severn Trent managed a +2.52% uptick. The French Cac 40 took a -2.24% hit.

Overnight, Asian markets followed suite with Japan's Nikkei losing -1.6% while Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped -1.3%.
First off this morning is a trading update from B&Q owner Kingfisher. Total Q1 sales are down 3.6% and Q1 retail profit slumps 8.6% impacted by poor weather across Europe and adverse foreign currency winds the company says.

Seasonal sales across the Group were down 22% impacting profit by £29m. On-going gross margin and cost initiatives helped limit the Q1 overall profit decline. But B&Q like-for-like sales slipped more than 10%.

"We anticipated," said boss Ian Cheshire, "the first quarter would be challenging, compared with last year's strong growth which was boosted by favourable spring weather and public holidays. But an extremely wet April this year in the UK and France compounded the difficulty, adversely impacting sales of outdoor and seasonal categories."

Next, final numbers from Halfords. Total group revenues are down -0.8% to £863.1m while group operating profits have slumped -24.1% to £97.2m. The tough economic environment, particularly hitting motorists, was behind the subdued sales and margin performance Halfords says.

One bright spot was cycling with like-for-like revenues climbing 9.7%. In-store service revenue rose by 22.6% as fitting penetration hit record levels. However the outlook currently is grim.

"Retail sales in FY13 have been very disappointing so far. In particular we have not seen the usual seasonal demand for Cycling and Outdoor Leisure products. We believe some of these sales are deferred rather than cancelled, and we expect a stronger performance from these categories as the year progresses. Autocentres," Halfords added, "continues to grow."

Finally, food ingredients group Tate & Lyle says full-year sales have hit £3.088bn (2011: £2.72bn), a 14% hike on the previous year. Adjusted operating profits rise 8% to £348m while operating profits climb from £303m in 2011 to £404m in 2012.

A 5.3% increase in the final dividend to 17.8p (2011 – 16.9p) is on the cards, making a full year dividend of 24.9p (2011 – 23.7p) per share, a 5.1% increase on the year before.

"We expect," said chief exec Javed Ahmed, "the final costs of our business transformation projects to be around £10-15 million higher than the original estimate of £94 million as a result of some scope changes and timeline extensions in the phased rollout of our global IS/IT platform."

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