Updates from Anglo American, William Hill and Spectris

The FTSE 100 finished a smidge -0.01% down yesterday at 6,243 points, not helped by the -0.7% ONS fall in March retail sales. Tullow Oil was the board's biggest riser up +4.22% while Eurasian Natural Resources saw the biggest drop, down -4.33%.

Overnight, Asian stocks saw a return to optimism with the Hang Seng climbing +1.33% and the Nikkei up +0.80%.
We kick off with a Q1 production update from miner Anglo American. Copper production increases +1% to 170,400 tonnes, with increased production at Los Bronces offset by lower production at Chilean Collahuasi due to a shutdown. However nickel production dips -48% to 6,200 tonnes, claims the company.

Diamond production increases +3% to 6.4 million carats due to favourable ore grade, offset by lower production from Orapa due to maintenance says the company. Metallurgical Coal achieved record first quarter export metallurgical coal production, increasing +23%.

However Anglo American, not to mention BHP Billiton and Xstrata, has come under recent criticism about its giant Cerrejón opencast coal mine - which exports coal to UK power stations - in northern Colombia. Local communities claim the mine is damaging the health of 13,000 people.

Next, a Q1 interim from bookies William Hill for the 13 weeks up to 2 April. Group net revenue grew +15% and operating profit is up +8%; online net revenue grew +21% and operating profit is up +13%. Sportsbook net revenue is up +47%.

Pre-tax exceptional costs of £10m have been absorbed relating to William Hill's Sportingbet acquisition. The Group expects £16m of exceptional costs in total relating to its Sportingbet buy. A further £3m relating to the acquisition of the William Hill Online interest, adds the company, has been incurred.

"Performance remains good," says boss Ralph Topping, "with strong gross win margins a feature of the period in both Retail and Online. We have two strong channels, with both responding well to opportunities and challenges. Cheltenham results were not as good for us this year but just after the quarter end, Auroras Encore made the Grand National a major success for William Hill."

Lastly, an interim from instrumentation and controls company Spectris. On a reported and constant currency organic basis, sales for the three months ended 31 March 2013 down by -8% and -9% respectively, delivering a slower than expected start to the year, said the company.

The decline is due to a combination of the strong comparative prior year period and weaker customer confidence leading to deferral of orders. Regionally, sales in Asia Pacific declined -15% on a like-for-like basis, North America declined -10% and Europe declined -6% in the quarter compared with the first quarter of last year.

"Whilst we now expect top-line growth in 2013 to be slightly lower than previously anticipated," said the company, "our strong opportunity pipeline and cost reduction initiatives leave us optimistic that we will deliver full year performance broadly in line with our expectations at the beginning of the year."

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