Updates from Hargreaves Lansdown and Home Retail Group

A -0.58% drop for the FTSE 100 yesterday, slipping almost 38 points to 6,468. Vodafone, despite recent rises, was the biggest plunger following its Verizon Wireless sell-off, down -5.02% to 202.50p. Tullow Oil was the strongest Board gainer, up +2.46%.

Overnight, the Nikkei 225 climbs +0.32% to 14,022. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
We start with preliminary numbers from Hargreaves Lansdown. Total assets under administration climb +38% to £36.4 billion with revenue up +22% to £292.4 million. Profits before tax climbs +28% to £195.2m.

The total Hargreaves Lansdown dividend is up +31% to 29.59p. It's particularly good news for the two founders of the company, Peter Hargreaves and Stephen Lansdown, who look set to bag at least a combined £56m dividend payout from the new numbers.

"Our clients have entrusted a further £5.1 billion to us resulting in £36.4 billion of assets under administration," says chief exec Ian Gorham. "We have also welcomed 76,000 new clients during the year now totalling 507,000. This has led to a 22% increase in revenues."

Next, first quarter numbers from rental equipment company Ashtead Group: there's pre-tax profits of £99m, up 59% at constant exchange rates with group EBITDA margins increased 43% (2012: 40%); £279m of new capital was also invested in the business (2012: £223m).

Its US Sunbelt arm continues to drive performance with rental revenue growing +25% to $479m (2012: $384m). Strong margins continue and Ashtead now anticipates a full year result ahead of previous expectations.

"The first quarter," says boss Geoff Drabble, "saw a continuation of the momentum established in the business, resulting in pre-tax profit of £99m. This performance is being driven by strong revenue growth and operational efficiency as demonstrated by the improvement in margins and return on investment."

Lastly, Argos, Homebase and Habitat owner, Home Retail Group, says chief exec Terry Duddy will step down from his role by the next AGM on 2nd July 2014. The company says the search for his successor will be led by the Group's Chairman John Coombe, and will include internal and external candidates.

"The Group," says Coombe," has a strong management team in place and we are delighted that Terry will continue to lead the Group as we manage the orderly appointment of his successor."

However both Argos and Homebase have seen profits slip. The Group's profits were clipped 10% last year to £91m while Duddy's overall pay packaged soared more than 40% to more than £1.5m, though he did invest a reduced bonus in company shares.

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