Updates from M&S, Meggitt and Wetherspoon

Adrian Holliday
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Meggitt, M&S, Wetherspoon
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Meggitt, M&S, Wetherspoon

A 34-point dip for the FTSE 100 on Tuesday, ending at 6,453.9. The bad news kept coming for Tullow Oil, down 5.2% to 457.90p while Aggreko tumbled more than 4% to 1455p. BG Group also was knocked hard, down 3.5% to 999.10p. A sweeter upsurge though for Silver Spoon owner ABF, climbing 4.1% to 2783p while Imperial Tobacco Group also rose strongly, up 4.12% to 2777p.

This morning, M&S announce its 13th consecutive quarter fall in clothing sales - clothing and footwear sales slump more than 3% in the three months to September. Let's get stuck into the detail...

Like-for-like general merchandise sales including clothing saw a 4% drop in the last quarter, admits M&S. M&S pins much of the bad news on a sunny September. General Merchandise first half sales are down -2.3% and -2.9% on a like-for-like basis.

Online sales don't look too happy either: M&S.com first half sales are down -6.3% though the high street retailer says its on track for growth ahead of peak trading period. The one bright spot is Food: first half sales are up 3.6%.

"We are pleased," says boss Marc Bolland, "with the progress we have made against our key priorities for the year: GM gross margin, improving Womenswear, driving Food growth and Cash generation."

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Marks and Spencer Customer Base 'Getting Older' as Profits Fall
Marks and Spencer Customer Base 'Getting Older' as Profits Fall

Next, defence player Meggitt. Underlying trading for the last quarter - 1 July to 4 Nov - has been broadly in line with expectations, with organic revenue growth in the third quarter of 5% it claims.

There's been strong growth in the civil original equipment (up 18%). A return to growth in military - up 5% Meggitt claims - offsets a 7% decline in energy. Total reported revenue in the third quarter dips 2%, not helped by forex gusts.

"Based on current projections," Meggitt says, "and taking into account the continued uncertainty in military markets and timing of energy contracts, the Group expects percentage organic revenue growth in the low to mid-single digits in 2015."

Lastly, a brief call at Wetherspoon. For the 13 weeks to 26 October 2014, like-for-like sales were upped 6.3%, and total sales increased 11.3%. Sales were good through August and September, but like-for-like growth came under pressure in October it says.

The operating margin in the period was 7.7% compared with 8.3% in the same period last year. In October the Company upped wages for hourly paid staff by 5%, while utility costs increased 4%. Several cost increases from suppliers also have to be factored in says the pubs player.

As a result of the October slowdown Wetherspoon says it's forecasting an operating margin in the range of 7.2-7.8% for the current financial year. "The Company is aiming for a satisfactory outcome for the current financial year," it says.

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