Updates from Ocado, Witan and LondonMetric
The FTSE 100 lost just four points yesterday, ending Tuesday at 6,685.5. Sports Direct Int saw the biggest lift, up 3.58% to 838p while Aviva climbed 2.75% to 523.50p. RBS was the index's biggest faller, down 3.0% to 310.20p.
The Dow Jones lost 67 points to 16,351.2 but this is still on the back of recent - last week - record highs.
Let's commence with online Morrisons partner Ocado and an interim statement for the 12 weeks to 23 February. Group Ocado sales climb 22.6% to £227.5m with average orders per week up 18.4% to 155,152 (though the average order value slips slightly to £117.53 from £117.99).
Ocado says it's pleased with the operational progress of Morrisons.com. "While we are encouraged by our current trading, the retail environment remains both challenging and competitive, and we expect to continue growing in line with, or slightly ahead of, the market."
Ocado looks set to open a large distribution depot in Salford that could bring upwards of 2,000 jobs to the city, reinvigorating sections of the Manchester Ship Canal in the process.
Next, LondonMetric. The property group has bought the Marks & Spencer Distribution Centre in Sheffield from clients of CBRE Global Investors for £32.2 million (net of acquisition costs), reflecting a net initial yield of 7.6%.
The acquisition will be funded from existing resources says LondonMetric. The asset comprises two units totalling 625,900 sq ft, sited at the Sheffield International Rail Freight Terminal (SIRFT), strategically located near the M1 motorway.
"This purchase," says chief exec Andrew Jones, "reflects a very attractive initial yield that delivers attractive cashflow to the Group, as well as strengthening our relationship with one of the UK's leading retailers."
Lastly, Witan Investment Trust reports a NAV total return of 29.4%, outperforming the benchmark's return of 20.7% it claims. The NAV total return over last five years is 104%, 22% ahead of the benchmark.
The dividend increases 9.1% to 14.4p, 7.1% ahead of the rate of inflation. Although a recovery in confidence is welcome, Witan warns the rise in equity markets has reduced the safety margin previously provided by low market valuations.
"The forthcoming corporate reporting season," it says, "will be important in confirming whether the growth that equity investors have anticipated is being realised."