Updates from Sainsbury's and Centrica
Overnight Asian stocks continued the downward run with the Japanese Nikkei sinking -0.16% to 13,296. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
We kick off with a +0.8% sales lift (excluding fuel) - its 34th consecutive quarter of like-for-like growth - for UK grocer Sainsbury's. The Sainsbury's sales numbers are based on the three months up to 8 June. Its luxury Taste the Difference brand is now taking £1bn in sales, Sainsbury's says.
"This has been a solid performance in what continues to be a tough consumer environment," says boss Justin King. "During the quarter we lapped some of our strongest performance of last year, culminating in the Queen‟s Diamond Jubilee. We are the only major grocer growing market share, up 0.2 per cent to 16.8%."
Convenience remains a strong driver for growth, with sales up nearly 20 per cent year-on-year, underpinned by robust life-for-like sales. Sainsbury's says the groceries online business is growing at over 16% year-on-year.
Next, Heritage Oil and an update on production levels from its OML 30 oil field assets in Nigeria. Gross production from OML 30 has returned to rates of over 35,000 bopd and all of the key fields are in production claims the company.
"The temporary factors," says Heritage, "which caused lower than expected production levels over the first quarter have been successfully addressed. Work is underway with the objective of optimising existing facilities, including gas lift, which will enable production rates to increase in line with management forecasts."
The drilling of new wells, planned to commence in the second half of 2014, should provide a significant increase to production with the longer term potential estimated at approximately 300,000 bopd gross, Heritage anticipates.
Finally, change at the top for Centrica. Following the announcement by BAE Systems plc that Sir Roger Carr is to become their next chairman, Centrica is commencing a search for a new chairman.
The search will be led by the senior independent director, Mary Francis CBE. "After 10 very successful years as Centrica's Chairman," said the company in a statement, "Sir Roger will step down on or before the Centrica AGM in May 2014. A further announcement will be made in due course in respect of the precise timing of the change."
Last week Centrica saw its price target hiked by Berenberg Bank from 370p to 380p. Berenberg retains its Hold rating on the stock.