Updates from Diageo and Thomas Cook
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We start with new numbers from Diageo for the nine months to 31 March. Although Diageo delivered 0.3% organic net sales growth in the nine months to 31 March 2014, net sales slumped 1.3% in the last quarter.
The third quarter saw currency and economic weakness impact consumer confidence across many emerging markets while consumer trends in developed markets were in line with expectations.
Current trends will hit top line growth this year, admits the drinks giant, "but strong management," says boss Ivan Menezes, "of our cost base means that we remain committed to the delivery of our margin expansion goals."
Next, Standard & Poor's has hiked the outlook from Thomas Cook from Stable to Positive. S&P's rating of the Group remains unchanged at "B" for the moment. (Thomas Cook shares have slipped recently on Cuba illness concern.)
"Our cost out and profit improvement programme is delivering ahead of schedule," says Thomas Cook boss Harriet Green, "and we have reached our target for disposals of non-core interests 18 months early."
S&P says the positive outlook reflects more chance of an upgrade within the next 12 months if operating trends continue to improve Group profitability and credit measures.
Lastly, an interim from Taylor Wimpey. The builder claims it has upped its UK total order book volume by 13% to 8,139 homes from the same point last year (2013 week 15: 7,190 homes), excluding legal completions to date, and by 23% from the year end.
Average selling prices of homes in the total private order book have increased by around 22% to approximately £248.9k (week 15 2013: £204.8k).
"Inevitably," says Taylor Wimpey, "the better market has resulted in ongoing pressure on build costs and labour, particularly in some geographic areas, however this continues to be held at a manageable level."