Updates from John Lewis, PureCircle and Galliford Try

Adrian Holliday
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, taylor wimpey purecircle john lewis
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, taylor wimpey purecircle john lewis

FTSE 100 shares on Friday saw an 18-point dip to 6,547.8 with house builders - following recent gains - taking a knock: Barratt and TaylorWimpey were both down more than 2% to 460.50p and 134.90p respectively. Smith &Nephew shares were also down, -1.94%, to 1165p. Better news though for TUI AG, up 2.3% to 1055p and Weir Group, up 1.7% to 1883p.

In the US the Dow Jones drifted just nine points higher to 17,832.9, not helped by news that US factory output was clipped again in December.

First, we start with John Lewis reporting a total like-for-like sales 4.8% hike to £777m in the five weeks to 27 December; online sales climbed 19% though bricks-and-mortar store sales saw no growth (online total sales accounted for 36% of sales).

John Lewis says November's Black Friday was a big boost for the company, helping sales climb 22% compared to 2013. Electrical and IT products led the sales push.

"This year," says John Lewis boss Andy Street, "confirmed the new shape of trade for Christmas, with an early peak at the end of November driven by Black Friday and last minute gift buying." Around 56% of total online sales were collected in-store.

Next, ingredients company PureCircle. Sales in 1H FY15 are expected to be $43m, an increase of 24% against 1H FY14 ($34.8m) while 1H FY15 gross margin, operating margin and EBITDA are expected to increase in line with sales revenues, claims PureCircle.

The Group ended 1H FY15 with net debt of $52m (1H FY14 $85m) and cash and facility headroom of $76m (1H FY14 $59m), it claims.

"With accelerating roll-outs of food and beverage products using PureCircle's stevia solutions, particularly in the important Carbonated Soft Drink category, the Company is confident of continued sales growth."

Lastly, property player Galliford Try says its Morrison Construction business has achieved financial close on the £45.2 million Hub South East Scotland Ltd contract for NHS Lothian.

Galliford is investing £2.2 million in funding and will provide ongoing hard facilities maintenance and lifecycle management services in a contract worth approximately £18.5 million over the 25 year concession.

"We are pleased to be selected for this significant health project for NHS Lothian," says exec chairman Greg Fitzgerald. "We look forward to successfully delivering this project for our client and wider stakeholders, and in turn provide the local community."

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