Updates from Next, Rexam and Antofagasta

The FTSE 100 gave away -1.02% yesterday, falling to 5,635 points following a rash of lower earnings results, including BP. The biggest slumper was CRH, down -5.77% while Vedanta Resources climbed +5.17%.

Overnight in Asia, the Nikkei lost -1.1% following pessimistic corporate numbers while Hong Kong's Hang Seng, following weaker Chinese factory data, flatlined.
Let's start with a trip down the high street to Next. In a trading statement the retailer says brand sales climbed 4.5% in the first half of 2012 while directory sales soared 13.3%. The 4.5% brand sales rise is at the top of the +1% to +4% guidance range given in its March and May statements.

Next Retail sales were 0.2% up on last year, with sales from new space offsetting lower sales from like-for-like stores, the UK's second biggest clothes retailer added. Next intends to buy back approximately £200m of shares this year; so far it has spent £112m buying 3.9m shares.

"We are modestly increasing and narrowing our sales and profit guidance ranges for the full year," the retailer said in a statement. "We now anticipate Brand sales growth of +2.0% to +4.5% and group profit before tax of £575m to £620m (previously £560m to £610m). The profit range and growth percentages exclude exceptional profits."

Packaging company Rexam says sales in the first half of 2012 have lifted +3%. Total underlying profits have come in at £271m on sales of £2,165m while the interim dividend climbs to 5p, that's 6% up on last year.

Healthcare underlying operating profits however slip from £36m to £27m. Rexam says the proposed sale of its personal care business should see around £370m returned to shareholders once the transactions are completed.

"In an increasingly uncertain macroeconomic environment," says Rexam, "we will continue to focus on generating cash, managing costs and return on capital employed for the rest of 2012. Our progress to date gives us confidence of achieving our 15% return on capital employed target by the end of 2013."

Lastly, Antofagasta says Group copper production was 173,200 tonnes in Q2 2012 and 336,000 tonnes in H1 2012 - a 6.3% increase compared with the previous quarter and a 16.5% increase compared to H1 2011.

This was mainly due to increased production as a result of higher throughput levels following the start of operations in 2011, Antofagasta says. Copper production for the 2012 full year is still expected to be approximately 700,000 tonnes.

Gold production was 72,600 ounces in Q2 2012 and 136,100 ounces in H1 2012 compared with 63,500 ounces in the previous quarter and 70,700 ounces in H1 2011.

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