Updates from Carpetright, Pennon Group and Segro

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

Quite a tumble for the FTSE 100: it lost more than 160 points on Friday, ending almost 2.5% down at 6,300.6 as global growth and oil price worries slammed into the index. Overall for the week, the FTSE 100 tumbled more than 5.5%. Petrofac and Aviva took some of the biggest hits down 6.3% and 3.9% (to 678p and 468p respectively). However not-so-tough regulations from Ofwat gave water shares a boost, with UnitedUtilities and SevernTrent rising sharply.

The growth anxiety was all over the Dow Jones, slumping 315 points to 17,280.8 with IBM and Exxon shares down steeply.

We start with interim numbers from Carpetright - and better news following recent loses for Britain's largest floor coverings player. It claims group total sales growth of 2.6% to £227.9m with underlying profit before tax of £6.7m, up by 123.3%.

Like-for-like UK revenues improve 6.5% though the gross profit percentage is cut 140 basis points to 61.7% (H1 FY14: 63.1%). Like-for-like European sales are down 3.3% in local currencies for the company, which has issued a rash of profit warnings in the last two years.

"Having made," says boss Wilf Walsh, "a solid start to the year, we now expect full year underlying pre-tax profits to be towards the upper end of current market expectations."

Next, industrial property specialist Segro says it has sold six UK of its industrial estates to Orchard Street Investment Management for £113.8 million, worth a passing rent of £6.4 million.

Segro claims the price reflects a premium in excess of 10 per cent compared to book value at 30 June 2014. (Segro recently sold seven German industrial estates.)

"We continue to reshape our portfolio, leaving the UK non-core asset disposal programme virtually complete," says Segro's Phil Redding. "The proceeds of this transaction will be used to reduce our net debt."

Finally, Pennon Group says South West Water won't apply for a Ofwat Final Determination to be referred to the Competition and Markets Authority for its business plan.

Water firms have two months to respond to Ofwat's decision and could have sought a referral. Ofwat's ruling means clarity is improved for the sector, and could now lead to takover speculation.

"This brings to a close a successful price review process for South West Water," says Pennon. "It represents an excellent outcome for investors and for customers."

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