Updates from Interserve and Cranswick

While many markets pushed higher on Friday, the FTSE 100 dipped lower, down seven points to 6,674 (19 points down on the week overall). Whitbread was Friday's biggest riser, up 2.99% to 3,483p. Falling sharply in the other direction was TUI Travel, down -7.78% to 359p after a leading shareholder sold.

The Dow Jones finished 54.78 points up at 16,064. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%We start with six month numbers up to 30 September from pig meat producer Cranswick. Pre-tax profits climb 16% to £26.1m while underlying revenues climb 13% to £474.9m. Earnings per share are up 22% to 43.5p.

Cranswick's Board anticipates full year performance should be in line with expectations. Rising UK meat prices have been a concern, but it appears Cranswick has been able to pass on some of the costs to retailers.

"Continued growth in sales," says Cranswick chairman Martin Davey, "significant investment in the asset base, most notably the commissioning of the new pastry facility, along with the strategic development of the Company's pig breeding and rearing activities were all positive features of the six months trading."

Next, six month numbers from FTSE 250-listed Essar Energy for the six months up to 30 September. The Indian-focused operator says group revenue hit US$13.4bn, up 5%. However losses before tax expanded to US$498.8mn on higher interest and foreign exchange losses, the company says.

"In Europe," says chief exec Sushil Maroo, "margins have fallen to levels where there is clear evidence of pressure on a number of refineries. Stanlow is close to completing a major maintenance turnaround which will position it well for a recovery in margins."

Essar's revenue from continuing operations for the six months up to the end of September climbed to $13.43 billion compared to $12.85 billion from the previous year. Indian Diesel demand should continue to rise at about 6%-7% per year, claims Essar.

Finally, Interserve has won a new £150m partnership with the University of Sussex where Interserve will provide management and administration services across 23 service specifications including cleaning, buildings management and energy-saving improvements.

"Through working in partnership with Interserve," says John Duffy, Registrar and Secretary at the University of Sussex, "we will ensure the long-term development of our campus facilities, ensuring that we are benefitting from new technology, best-in-class systems and...sector-leading standards".

Interserve said mid-November that performance July 1 to date was in line with expectations, though conditions were described as "mixed"."

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