Updates from AMEC, Smiths Group and PZ Cussons
In Asia, the Bank of Japan surprised markets with a $126 billion stimulus package, boosting stocks. The Nikkei ended +1.7% higher while the Hang Seng climbed +1.1%.
We kick off with engineering consultancy player AMEC which has signed an agreement to buy 50% per cent of Brazilian Kromav Engenharia Ltd from its owner managers for $12.5 million in cash.
Kromav is a privately owned Brazilian offshore oil and gas and marine engineering company based in Rio de Janeiro - a team of some 200 specialising in engineering services for offshore platforms, FPSO (Floating, Production, Storage & Offloading) vessels and other marine applications.
"The combination, AMEC KROMAV, will be able to better assist customers and regional operators in the largest deepwater market in the world," said Simon Naylor, president of AMEC's Natural Resources Americas business.
Next, final full year numbers from Smiths Group. Headline revenue climbs +7% higher - to £3,038 million - with growth across all divisions. Headline operating profit rises +7% to £554m and company-funded investment in product development climbs +9% to £107m.
"Pressures on government spending," says chief exec Philip Bowman, "are expected to continue, particularly given the risk of budget sequestration in the US and widespread concerns over national debt levels in parts of Europe. These conditions are likely to continue to constrain those parts of our business with government-funded customers."
However emerging market revenue is also +14% up (representing 15% of Group revenues); there's strong headline operating cash conversion at 99% with free cash-flow of £217m. The dividend rises +5% to 38.0p.
Lastly, a quarterly trading update from PZ Cussons. Group performance for the period is in line with management expectations the company claims. Trading for the UK washing and bathing division is described as "robust" though its important Nigerian market continues to look fragile.
The Group's focus remains on product development and margin improvement. Raw material cost trends are expected to be favourable this year, PZ says, and benefits of the supply chain optimisation project are starting to emerge.
"In the beauty division, whilst the poor summer weather adversely impacted sales of St Tropez, the other brands in the portfolio have performed well with Sanctuary benefiting from the launch of the new Active Reverse skin care range with ballet star Darcey Bussell as brand ambassador."