Updates from Kingfisher, Barratt and Facebook
Overnight, Asian stocks finished higher, with the Nikkei ending Wednesday +1.1% up at 8,905 and the Hang Seng +1% higher at 20,059.
First up is B&Q owner, Kingfisher. Wet summer weather and rough foreign exchange movements have hit profits and sales: first half year adjusted pre-tax profits slip to £371m compared with £439m a year ago while H1 sales drift from £5,662m the year before to £5,478m.
Seasonal product sales were down 7% says the company, resulting in higher seasonal markdowns to clear excess seasonal stocks and additional marketing to drive footfall and share. But the interim dividend climbs 25.1%, calculated automatically as 35% of the prior year's total dividend.
"This has been a tough first half," says chief exec Ian Cheshire, "with unprecedented wet weather throughout the key spring and summer seasons in Northern Europe. This affected footfall and demand for outdoor maintenance, gardening and leisure products, which normally account for a significant proportion of our first half sales."
Next, final annual numbers from housebuilder Barratt. Group operating profit before exceptional items climbs 41.6% to £191.1m (2011: £135.0m). Group revenues climb 14.1% to £2,323.4m, with completions of 12,637 units (2011: 11,078).
Average selling prices have increased to £180,500 (2011: £178,300) with private average selling prices increasing by 1.5% to £201,800 (2011: £198,900). Operating margin is upped to 9.5% in the second half of the year and to 8.2% for the full year, up from 6.6% in the full year before. But no dividend for the year to 30 June 2012.
"The year has seen a rapidly improving performance across the Group which shows that our strategy is delivering, with profits up 159% and an almost halving of our net debt," says chief exec Mark Clare. "In the current financial year we expect to make further good progress, with more than half of completions forecast to be delivered from our more recently acquired higher margin land."
We end with an update from Facebook - and regret from the boss of the social network player of the halving of the company's market value since it floated. However Zuckerberg claims that Facebook is now focusing on mobiles, not desktops.
"Literally, six months ago we didn't have an ad on mobile," the BBC reports Zuckerberg as saying. Facebook has now launched apps for Apple's iOS smartphones and Android. "Ads have to be more integrated into the product on mobile," said Zuckerberg.
Yesterday Facebook shares closed at just under $19.50, some way down from their May IPO debut of $38.