Updates from Croda, Provident Financial and Redrow

The FTSE 100 climbed almost 20 points yesterday, finishing at 6,355. Antofagasta saw the biggest climb, up +3.04%, while FT owner Pearson took the biggest fall, down -3.70%.

Overnight, more uncertainty over the Italian election has taken its toll on Asian shares with the Nikkei down down -2.26% and the Hang Seng slipping -0.84%.
We start with personal care and home care player Croda International. A stronger Q4 for the company with operating profit climbing +7.4% to £255.4m while profit before tax climbs +6.6% to £253.2m. Earnings per share are up +8.2% to 130.0p while dividends per share climb +8.2% to 59.5p.

Croda says Consumer Care sales increased 2.6% over the year to £586.4m (2011: £571.4m), despite some weakness in the third quarter, while operating profits rose 8.3% to £185.4m (2011: £171.2m). The return on sales of 31.6% (2011: 30.0%) was a new record for the Group, it claims.

"Our progress reflects," says chairman Martin Flower, "our focus on sustainable growth through continued product innovation in niche markets and increasing investment in new technologies and emerging markets, particularly in Asia and Latin America."

Next, cash home credit player Provident Financial. Preliminary numbers for the year up to 31 December sees profit before tax climb +11.7% to £181.1m and adjusted earnings per share climb +13.8% to 102.0p.

On the Vanquis Bank side, UK pre-tax profit climbs 61.3% to £71.3m (2011: £44.2m). Provident claims guidance for medium-term potential size of UK business increases to between 1.3 and 1.5 million customers due to higher penetration of target market (previously between 1.0 and 1.2 million).

"I am very pleased to announce adjusted earnings per share growth of 13.8% in 2012," says Provident chief exec Peter Crook, "and an 11.9% increase in the dividend for the year which is fully supported by strong capital generation. We have now delivered cumulative earnings per share growth of 42.9% over the last three years."

Finally, builder Redrow. Half-year revenues climb 10% to £257.0m, driven by a 10% increase in private average selling price to £224,000 says Redrow while gross margins are bumped up to 18% (2012: 15.4%) - a result of increased sales from sites purchased since 2009, and improved product mix.

Profit before tax 50% up to £23.0m (2012: £15.3m). Adjusted earnings per share increases 30% to 4.8 pence (2012: 3.7 pence) with net debt increased to £65.2m (June 2012: £14m), giving gearing of 11% (June 2012: 2%).

"We have started the second half well, with reservations up 8% on the same period last year," says chairman Steve Morgan. "Additionally we are on track to increase the number of outlets from 82 to around 90 by June. Given the strong pipeline of new sites and the modest improvement in market conditions, I am cautiously optimistic."

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