Updates from Aviva, Standard Life and Bellway

Stocks slipped for the fourth consecutive day yesterday. The FTSE 100 was down -1.41% to 6,511, 93 points lower in total. TUI Travel was the biggest faller, down -5.16% to 380.80p while Unilever slumped -3.96% to 2572p.

Overnight, the Japanese Nikkei 225 slips -1.63% to 13,599 though Hong Kong's Hang Seng is up +0.27% to 21,648. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
The big news this morning is Aviva operating profits, up to 30 June, which climb +5%. Profit after tax came in at £776 million, in contrast to the £624 million loss last year. Cash flows to the Group increased +30% to £573 million.

A key measure of sales - value of new business - increased 17%, driven by the UK, France, Poland, Turkey and Asia says the company. However in In UK Life, operating profit of £438 million is £31 million lower than last year.

"Although these results continue the positive trends of the first quarter, tackling our legacy issues will take time," warned chief exec Mark Wilson. "I am committed to achieving for investors what we set out to do: turning around the company to unlock the considerable value in Aviva."

Next, Standard Life and a +6% climb in first half year operating profits, lifting to £304m. Fee based revenue increases +14% to £694m (H1 2012: £610m) while there's also a +28% increase in UK operating profit.

Investment performance was aided by new net inflows of £7.1bn. Standard Life Investments third party assets under management now climbs to £93.4bn (FY 2012: £83.0bn) while the interim dividend is up +6.5% to 5.22p.

"Standard Life," says boss David Nish, "has made really good progress in the first half of the year, delivering substantial growth in sales, flows and assets, all driving higher revenues and operating profits."

Finally, a pre-close trading update from house builder Bellway. Bellway claims the sale of 5,652 homes (2012 - 5,226), an increase of +8.2% compared with this time last year. The average selling price of homes sold is upped +3% to around £193,000 (2012 - £186,648) it says.

That means the house builder expects revenue to be around £1,090m (2012 - £975m), an increase of around +12%. The operating margin has improved, it claims, driven by a growing proportion of completions from higher margin land, snapped up since the downturn.

"Visitor numbers," Bellway says, "have risen and reservations have exceeded expectations, averaging 128 per week (2012 - 101), an increase of 27% compared with the previous year. The sales rate has improved since the introduction of Help to Buy."

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