Updates from Kingfisher, Dixons and Marston's

Most markets held their ground yesterday. The FTSE 100 inched up just 3.5 points to 5,803. Burberry Group was the biggest FTSE 100 gainer, up +2.74% while Bunzl suffered the largest dip, down -4.0%.

The Dow Jones finished Wednesday up +0.83%. Some of the optimism is grounded soon-to-be-released GDP numbers. Overnight, the Nikkei climbed +0.99%.
We kick off with new numbers from Kingfisher, owner of Screwfix and B&Q. Group profits for the third quarter slip -6% due to disappointing sales in the UK and also France. French retail profits slipped -9.2% to £140m though UK retail profits fare better, up +5.7% to £59m.

However total UK sales declined 0.7% to £1,055 million (-3.8% on a like-for-like basis). Clearly, better margins are helping. B&Q sales slipped -2.3% to £906m while Screwfix total sales increased almost +11% to £149m.

Overall, boss Ian Cheshire said Kingfisher was in decent shape "and I remain enthusiastic about our longer-term prospects under our new 'Creating the Leader' program which will establish us as a world class retailer at helping customers have better and more sustainable homes."

Next, Dixons, owner of Currys and PC World. The on-line retailer - boosted significantly since Comet's unhappy exit - says UK sales picked +3% up for the six months up to 13 October to £1,592.6m. Underlying Group pre-tax losses amount to £22.2m compared to £25.3m the previous year.

UK & Ireland returns to first half profitability, for the first time in five years claims Dixons with Group multi-channel sales up +29% and up +38% in Currys & PC World. However PIXmania saw overall sales dip 7% to £198.3m.

"I am particularly encouraged," says chief exec Sebastian James, "by our performance in the UK & Ireland and in Northern Europe and we were particularly busy during the sporting and cultural events during the summer. While August and September were, as expected, a bit quieter, we remain cautiously optimistic about the outlook."

Finally, independent pub operator, Marston's. Group revenue climbs +5.5% for the year to £719.7 million (2011: £682.2 million) with underlying profits before tax of £87.8 million up +9.2% (2011: £80.4 million). Managed like-for-like sales climb +2.2% with underlying operating margins up +0.2%.

Marston's claim improved managed pub development - 25 new-build pubs completed with performance ahead of target and claim they're on track to build another 20-25 in 2013.

Marston's numbers "demonstrate resilience," says boss Ralph Findlay, "despite the weak economy and very poor weather during the summer. All areas of the business achieved increased revenue and profit in the year, demonstrating the continuing appeal of good pubs and beers."

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