Updates from Greene King, Ashtead Group and Genus

Most markets rose yesterday. The FTSE 100 climbed 0.82% to 5,758 points with miner Fresnillo the biggest winner, up +4.23%. Admiral Group however sank -3.04% following downgrade concerns.

Yesterday's optimism was not carried through to Asia today with the Hang Seng dipping -0.25%. The US indexes were closed for Labor Day.
We start with Greene King and good news - a 5.1% climb in retail sales - in the 18 weeks up to 2 September for the pub and brewer. These stronger numbers were not down to an 'Olympics effect'.

"The Olympics had a minimal net impact," said the company, "on the overall Retail performance. In London, the City and the West End were generally quiet while in the suburbs, including Realpubs and Capital Pub Company sites, trading was noticeably stronger."

It also achieved like-for-like (LFL) food sales growth of 5.2%, LFL drink sales growth of 5.0% and LFL room sales growth of 4.9%. In Pub Partners, after 16 weeks, average EBITDA per pub was up 3.5% says the brewer.

Next, record Q1 pre-tax profits of £61m for rental equipment player Ashtead Group. Revenues climbed +21% to £325m while operating profits soars +60% to £73.8m from £46.2m.

"The markets in which we operate," says chief exec Geoff Drabble, "have performed as anticipated with gently improving conditions in the US and a more challenging outlook in the UK. We do not anticipate any significant changes to this environment in the short term."

Stronger growth in fleet on rent and improving margins should mean a full year result "materially ahead of our previous expectations." Long-term debt has been re-financed giving significantly lower cost and longer maturities, Ashtead claims.

Finally, animal genetics company Genus. It claims strong revenue growth - up 10% from £309.9m to £341.8m - and a +21% climb in profits to £54.2m for the full year up to 30 June.

The Genus Board is recommending a final dividend of 10.1 pence per share. With the interim dividend of 4.5 pence per share, this would mean a dividend for the full year of 14.6 pence per share, an increase of 10%.

"With the investments we are making in R & D, the BRIC countries and core competencies, we believe this strategy will enable Genus to continue to make progress in the year ahead and will see an improving rate of growth from 2014 onwards," says boss Karim Bitar.

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