Updates from Debenhams, JD Sports and Galliford Try

The FTSE 100 slipped -0.37% yesterday to 5,893 points. Ashmore Group was the biggest climber, up +3.1% while Evraz was the biggest index faller, down -3.3%.

Overnight, Chinese and Japan international tensions depressed shares and investor confidence; both the Hang Seng and Nikkei slipped slightly by end of trading.
We commence with a trip to Debenhams and a trading update. The retailer claims strong like-for-like sales growth with modernised stores performing well. There's been market share gains in womenswear; online sales have climbed by 40%.

There's also decent growth in international businesses; pre-tax profits are expected to be ahead of last year, in line with current market expectations.

"This performance is clear confirmation that our strategy to build a leading international, multi-channel brand is beginning to work," said chief exec Michael Sharp. He added: "We do not anticipate a significant change in the economic environment in the near future but we expect to continue to make progress in 2013."

Next, housebuilder Galliford Try. Group revenues for the full year ending 30 June climb +17% to £1,504m while pretax profits are up +80% to £63.1m from last year's £35.1m. Earnings per share climb almost +90% to 32.2p; dividends per share rises to 30.0p from 16.0p.

There was a 40% increase in completions (inclusive of joint ventures) to 3,039 (2011: 2,170) and a "resilient" summer performance with a 7% increase in sales. In Construction, 86% of current year's planned revenue is secured (2011: 90%).

"We have a strong balance sheet" says chief exec Greg Fitzgerald, "and a disciplined growth strategy with a clear focus on improving margins that positions us well to deliver further profitable growth in the new financial year and beyond."

Finally, half year numbers from JD Sports Fashion, and greater clarity on the Blacks acquisition. Group operating profit (before exceptional items) is slashed from £13.1 million to £3.2 million (2011: £16.3 million), mostly as a result of a loss of £10.0 million in Blacks.

Group profit before tax in the period ultimately decreased £17.2 million to £2.9 million (2011: £20.1 million). JD will pay out an interim dividend of 4.3p per ordinary share, a hike of 4.9% over the prior year (2011: 4.10p).

"Notwithstanding the economic pressure on margin and the general increase in taxation and other levies across Europe," said exec chairman Peter Cowgill, "the Board believes that the Group is well positioned to deliver results that are within the range of current expectations."

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