Updates from Persimmon and Wood Group

Adrian Holliday
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100

The FTSE 100 lifted more than 52 points on Monday, taking it to 6,741.2. CRH and Smiths Group were the biggest gainers, up 2.75% (to 1456p) and 2.69% (to 1300p) respectively. Hargreaves Lansdown and AstraZeneca shares also lifted positively. The German Dax also recovered strongly, up 1.68%.

Across the water, the Dow Jones surged 175 points to 16,838 as Russian tensions backed off.

Like yesterday we start with more house builder news, this time from Persimmon. Half Year numbers sees underlying profit before tax climb 57% to £212.9m (2013: £135.3m) while revenues rise 33% to £1.2bn (2013: £0.9bn).

Legal completions rise 28% to 6,408 new homes sold (2013: 5,022) with the average selling price, Persimmon claim, upped 4.3% to £186,970 (2013: £179,199).

"As we have entered the traditionally slower summer trading weeks," says boss Jeff Fairburn, "we have been encouraged by our private sale reservation rate since 1 July which is currently running 9% ahead of the same period last year."

Next, Imperial Tobacco. The cigarette giant says there was a 3% underlying rise in growth bands volume, to £91bn, while net revenues on a reported basis slips 1% to £4,752m. Specialist Brands supported the total portfolio with net revenue gains of 3% it claims.

Imperial says strict management of cost remains a priority with a cost optimisation programme on track to deliver incremental savings of £60 million for the year.

"Whilst conditions are still tough," says chief exec Alison Cooper, "in a number of our markets, our footprint provides balance and we're generating good results in Growth Markets, whilst demonstrating on-going resilience in our Returns Markets."

Lastly, half year numbers from engineering player Wood Group. Total revenues climb 10% to $3,801.2m with total EBITA in line with H1 2013 at $243.9m. Wood anticipates full year total EBITA to be in line with expectations, up on 2013.

Profit from continuing operations on an equity accounting basis pre-tax climbs 15% to $182.4m (2013: $159.0m) while there's a dip in diluted earnings per share of 44.4 cents (2013: 44.5 cents).

"We have seen," says boss Bob Keiller, "strong performance in our PSN Production Services activities in the US shale market, offset by an anticipated lower contribution from Upstream Engineering and weaker than expected performance in our Turbine Activities."

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