Updates from Centrica and BAE Systems

The FTSE 100 barely moved yesterday, ending the day at 6,796.7. Sports Direct International was the biggest winner, scoring a 7.12% lift to 767p on the back of stronger profits and online sales. There was also respite for grocer Morrisons, up 4.90% to 244p on private equity speculation.

The Dow Jones slipped almost 90 points, down -0.56% to 16,040. %VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%We kick off with Centrica/British Gas and a drop in profits. Centrica profits come in at £2.7bn, down from £2.74bn while adjusted operating profit for the full year for British Gas is £571m - a 6% slip on the £606m from last year.

Basic earnings per share remains at 28.6p. British Gas returned to major prominence in a recent Which? survey of complaints from Big Six customers. Energy Secretary Ed Davey recently warned that large energy companies may need to be broken up, impacting on share prices.

"Market conditions," says chief exec Sam Laidlaw, "are set to remain challenging in 2014 with margin pressures and unusual weather patterns on both sides of the Atlantic, rising unit costs in the North Sea and weak economics for gas storage and gas-fired power generation."

Next, preliminary numbers from BAE Systems. Sales increases 2% to £18.2bn with underlying EBITA up 3% to £1.9bn; underlying earnings per share climbs 9% to 42.0p. The full year dividend is increased 3% to 20.1p per share.

An order backlog of £42.7bn is maintained at 2012 levels with non-UK/US order intake of £9.3bn, claims BAE. But BAE has also benefited considerably from sealing a Eurofighter jet deal with Saudi Arabia, just in time to include in the final numbers.

"A proactive focus on costs," says chief exec Ian King, "and enhanced competitiveness protected our margins across the majority of the business and we secured further contract wins in the US, Saudi Arabia and internationally."

We end with full year numbers from Playtech. Revenues climb 16% to €367.2m while adjusted net profit - including the share of profits from William Hill Online - rises 26% to €148.3m. Adjusted basic earnings per share rises 25% to 50.7 cents.

"I am delighted to announce," non-exec chairman Alan Jackson says, "the payment of a substantial special dividend totalling £100 million in addition to the recommended 15.4 € cents final dividend, bringing the total dividend for 2013 to over €188 million."

Daily average revenues for the first seven weeks of 2014 are up over 15% on Q1 2013 (up more than 8% after excluding the acquisition of PokerStrategy) and over 4% on Q4 2013.

Read Full Story