Updates from GKN, Carpetright and Bellway

The FTSE 100 pushed 12.2 points higher yesterday to 5,805. The biggest riser was Admiral Group, lifting +2.94% while Kazakhmys was the biggest faller, down -3.56%.

Overnight in Asia the gains continue with Japanese shares leaping on a falling yen and US earnings data. The Nikkei climbed more than +1.3%; the Hang Seng rose +0.3%.
First off this morning, an interim update from engineering operator GKN. Group sales in the three months ended 30 September totalled £1,608 million, an 8% increase over the same period in 2011, half of which was organic growth.

Third quarter trading profit increased slightly to £114 million (2011: £113 million) but trading margin is cut to 7.1%. Sales in the quarter for GKN's other businesses fell more than -30% to £19 million (2011: £28 million).

"The Group's global footprint," said boss Nigel Stein, "with its exposure to the strong markets of North America and China, as well as civil aerospace, allowed us to offset weaker European markets. Profit was affected by expected seasonal factors and operational issues in Driveline."

Next, Carpetright. Like-for-like sales in the UK increased 0.6% while total sales in the UK declined 0.6% due to the reduction in the number of stores year-on-year. In Europe, like-for-like sales - Netherlands, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland - is slashed by 12.7% with total sales dipping -12.2%.

The deterioration of consumer confidence in the Netherlands, in particular, remains a worry where the floor coverings market remains very weak. But the Group result for the year to date is in line with management's expectations.

"Whilst the underlying floor coverings market remains volatile," says boss Darren Shapland, "our self-help actions such as the development of our bed proposition, extension of our laminate range to more stores and the impact of our store refurbishment programme, continue to deliver positive results."

Finally, prelim results for house builder Bellway, and resilient-looking numbers for the year up to 31 July. The amount of homes sold increases to 5,226 (2011 - 4,922) while the average selling price increases to £186,648 (2011 - £175,613). Total Group turnover rises to £1,004.2m (2011 - £886.1m)

Operating margin rises +11.4% (2011 - 8.5%) while profit before tax increases +57% to £105.3m (2011 - £67.2m). Earnings per share accelerates by +58% to 65.5p (2011 - 41.5p) with the total dividend increasing 60% to 20.0p (2011 - 12.5p).

Consumer demand for new homes has shown continued resilience and this," says chairman Howard Dawe, "has enabled Bellway to deliver its third successive year of growth in volume, average selling price and operating margin".

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