Updates from ABF, Persimmon and Imperial Tobacco

Adrian Holliday
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, ABF, Imperial Tobacco Persimmon
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, ABF, Imperial Tobacco Persimmon

A 58-point drop for the FTSE 100 on Monday to 6,487.9. The biggest falls were led by Primark owner Associated British Foods, slumping 3% to 2671p while Centrica also fell heavily, down 2.31% to 295p. There were heavy falls too for Kingfisher and StandardLife. In contrast, easyJet surged 2.67% to 1540p while TUITravel saw a 1.8% gain to 406p.

The Dow Jones had a quiet day, slipping 24 points to 17,366.2, clinging close to its record high.

We start with sugar-to-jeans-to-groceries player ABF. Full year 12 month numbers sees revenues dip 3% to £12.9bn but adjusted profit pre tax climbs 2% to £1,105m. Dividends per share climb 6% to 34p.

Much lower sugar prices in the EU held back the group's profit growth though operationally, Sugar performed well ABF claims - and Primark's performance was "magnificent", helped by its France foray and other new markets. Basic earnings per share climb 30% to 96.5p.

"We expect Primark's expansion to continue and Grocery, Ingredients and Agriculture to make further progress," says the company. "With the continuing fall in EU sugar prices, and volatility in the world sugar price, we expect a further large reduction in profit from AB Sugar".

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Next, Housing player Persimmon with a Q3 update. Persimmon claims it continues to have good forward reservation interest with £696 million of forward sales reserved beyond 2014, a 12% hike on last year (2013: £622 million).

Selling prices remain robust with modest growth available in areas of higher demand. Cancellation rates are running at historically low levels it says; Persimmon is now fully sold up for 2014 it claims.

"We remain confident," says the company, "of delivering further growth in Group operating profits in the second half of the year from both improved gross margins and tightly controlled overheads."

Finally, preliminary 12-month numbers for Imperial Tobacco, owner of Woodbine, John Player and Gauloises. Underlying volumes of Growth Brands climb 7% while underlying net revenues from Specialist Brands climb 2%.

Imperial claims strong performance in Growth Markets with underlying net revenue up 7%. Its cost optimisation programme claims it has delivered more than £60m savings in the year - on track for £300m pa by 2018.

"We've strengthened our brands," says chief exec Alison Cooper, "and market footprint, improved cash conversion to 91 per cent, reduced debt by £1 billion and delivered another 10 per cent dividend increase to shareholders."

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