Updates from Kingfisher, Severn Trent and Mitchells & Butlers

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

The FTSE 100 fell back 27 points on Monday to 6,729.7. Smith & Nephew climbed 4.4% to 1138p with BT up sharply, rising 3.7% to 394.1p on news it's in talks to buy O2 or EE. The biggest faller by a big margin was Petrofac, down almost 25% to 896p after warning that net profits are likely to be significantly lower next year.

Across the water the Dow Jones crept almost eight points higher to 17,817.9 helped by merger and fresh central bank stimulus news.

We commence with disappointing news from Kingfisher, owner of B&Q and Screwfix, buffeted by a strong pound. Q3 sales slip to £2.8 billion, down 0.9% on a like-for-like basis with retail profits coming in at £225m, down 6.9% in constant currencies. Overall a 11.8% dip in profits.

There is better news from Screwfix though with a strong 13.1% jump in sales; reported UK sales broadly are up 4.8% for the group, helped by a bullish UK housing market. Total sales in France declined in an on-going weak market however.

"Overall," says outgoing boss Sir Ian Cheshire, "we remain cautious on the outlook, especially in France, and continue to focus on margin and cost initiatives to support our performance."

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Next, SevernTrent and a sharp tumble in profits to £138.2m compared to £191.2m. Group turnover for the six months to 30 September climbs 2.7% to £947.6m while underlying group profit pre-tax is up 10.3% to £155.8m.

The interim dividend rises 5.6% to 33.96p a share. The dividend for the full year is expected to be 84.90 pence. Directly managed costs increased 4.3%, while indirectly managed costs increased 0.8% says Severn Trent.

"We are acutely aware," says the company, "that many of our customers are facing difficult times and we have kept our bill increases at or below inflation for 5 years running, as well as working hard to help customers who are struggling through our range of social tariffs."

Finally, full year numbers from pubs operator Mitchells&Butlers. Total revenues arrive at £1,970m, up 4.0% while there's full-year 2014 like-for-like sales growth of 0.6%. It claims like-for-like sales growth of 2.4% for the first eight weeks of full-year 2015.

However profit before tax takes a substantial dip at £123m (FY 2013 £142m) and basic earnings per share come in at 22.6p (FY 2013 31.2p).

"In the last year," claims boss Alistair Darby, "we have made significant progress, investing in the business for future growth. We completed the acquisition of Orchid, accelerated remodel and expansionary capex and have made a substantial investment in our systems."

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