Updates from Greggs and Marston's

Another dip for the FTSE 100 yesterday, down almost 72 points to 6,365. A -1.1% drop. Travis Perkins saw the biggest sell-off, down -3.78% to 1578p with M&S close behind, sinking -3.44% to 463.80p.

Across the water on Day 7 of the shutdown, the Dow Jones endured a 159 point thump, slipping -1.07% to 14,776, its lowest level for six weeks. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
We start with an interim from baker Greggs for the 13 weeks up to 28 September. Total sales climb +3.6% for the 13 weeks to 28 September 2013, but like-for-like sales are down -0.5%. Year to date total sales climb +3.5% though like-for-like sales cool -2.1%.

"We are encouraged," says chief exec Roger Whiteside, "by the recent improvement in like-for-like performance, although with consumer disposable incomes still under pressure we remain cautious... Our overall outlook for the full year is unchanged."

Be aware that the Newcastle-based business has come out with a couple of profit warnings this year. Trading for the baker - it has almost 1,700 stores - was affected by soaring summer temperatures. Greggs shares currently sell for 427p, some way off its 525p 52-week high.

Next, a trading update from pubs group Marston's for the year up to 5 October. Marston's performance for the second half-year is described as "encouraging", with good weather over the summer balancing poor weather during the first half-year it says.

In Destination and Premium pubs, like-for-like sales were +2.2% ahead of last year including like-for-like food sales growth of +3.7%. In the last 11 weeks like-for-like sales have grown +2.6%. Operating margins are expected to be slightly ahead of last year.

"We have disposed of 130 pubs and other assets in the year generating proceeds of around £50 million, higher than we originally anticipated. A more aggressive churn of the estate will improve returns over time," Marston's claims.

Finally, half year numbers from retailer N Brown Group. Total operating profit climbs +5.9% to £48.4m with revenues climbing £409.6m and adjusted earnings per share up +0.6% to 12.55p. Excluding newly opened stores, like-for-like sales increased +7.8%.

Profit before taxation and fair value adjustments on foreign exchange contracts was £45.0m (2012, £42.0m), up +7.1%. Based on the growth in trading profit and reduced gearing, the interim dividend will be hiked +4.0% to 5.67p. The stock recently received a Neutral rating from Citigroup.

"During the period," says Andrew Higginson, chairman, "we have welcomed Angela Spindler as CEO and have completed an extremely successful handover from Alan White, to whom I would like to give my personal thanks. The business is in an excellent position to continue to deliver positive results."

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