Updates from Greggs and L&G
But the Dow Jones slipped more steeply, down -0.30% or 46 points, to 15,612. Overnight, the Nikkei 225 is up +0.62% to 14,346. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
First off is a half-year update from Legal & General. Dividends climb +22% while earnings per share are up +13%. Operating profit climbs +10% to £571m compared to £518m last year. Profit after tax climbs +15% to £464m. International assets under management are up +21% to £52bn.
"Auto-enrolment," says the company, "has been a success with over 90% of joiners staying enrolled, indicating the start of a shift to a more self-reliant culture. Welfare reform in the UK is proceeding quickly and this increases the need for employers and individuals to consider greater use of protection cover, particularly for those with limited savings funds."
Legal & General recently claimed it wants to increase investment in UK infrastructure from £3bn to £15bn during the next 10 years, including property and energy projects. There's plenty of cash washing about - it has £441bn assets under management.
Next, we nip to Greggs for an interim for the 26 weeks up to 29 June. Total Group sales climbs +3.4% to £362m (2012: £350m) but like-for-like own shop sales are down -2.9% resulting in pre-tax profits slipping £4.6m to £11.4m (2012: £16.0m).Trading in the first five weeks of the second half to 3 August saw like-for-like sales fall -3.2% due to the heat.
Greggs claims cost control was strong but profit performance is particularly sensitive to movements in like-for-like sales. There is no change in the interim dividend at 6.0p.
"Despite the additional contribution," it says, "from new shop openings and wholesale sales growth we were not able to offset the significant impact of like-for-like sales decline in the core business. In addition the first half result includes one-off costs of £1.0m."
Lastly, an upturn for InterContinental Hotels. There's first half global revenue per available room (RevPAR) growth of +3.7% with the second quarter up +4.0%. The US is up +4.7% while the AMEA region is up +6.2%. Europe climbs +2.2%. First-half pre-tax profit climbs to $462 million compared to last year's $279 million.
There's a 10% increase in the interim dividend to 23 cents and $350m will be returned to shareholders via a special dividend in October. The $500m share buyback programme is almost 50% complete.
"We have delivered," says boss Richard Solomons, "a good performance in the first half, with our preferred brands driving RevPAR growth of 3.7%, including 4.0% in the second quarter. Our global scale has allowed us to reinvest in the business whilst growing margins, resulting in solid underlying profit gains led by our Americas region, and strong cash flows."