Updates from Morrisons, E.On and Debenhams

Adrian Holliday


savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Morrisons, E.On, Debenhams
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Morrisons, E.On, Debenhams

The FTSE 100 barely budged on Monday, up just 0.2 of a point at 6,501.4. GKN was the biggest riser, up 3.1% to 348.50p while Compass Group also rose strongly, 2.5%, to 1109p. By some margin SSE saw the steepest drop, down 5.7% to 1503p. BG Group was another big loser, down 3.6% to 800p.

Over in the US there was rather more movement with the Dow Jones ending the start of the week down 96 points at 17,640.8, not helped by more pressure on oil prices.

Big news this morning - Morrisons boss Dalton Philips is to quit the troubled retailer after five years in the top seat and a steady erosion of supermarket market share. No replacement has yet been found.

"In the next chapter of Morrisons development," says deputy chairman Andrew Higginson, "we need to return the business to growth. The Board believes this is best done under new leadership."

Morrisons latest sales look dismal: in the six weeks to 4 January, total sales excluding fuel were down by 1.3% and like-for-like sales excluding fuel down were down 3.1%. However Morrisons claims it had a better Christmas.

Next, E.On says it's snipping gas prices by 3.5%, a consequence of plunging wholesale costs - and should exert pressure on competitors SSE, ScottishPower, nPower and British Gas.

E.ON boss Tony Cocker says his company is "the first supplier to reflect through our standard tariff the overall drop in wholesale gas prices."

Recently Business, Energy and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock asked the UK's big six energy players for an explanation over the lack of any recent price cuts.

Lastly, Debenhams says the four weeks to 10 January saw life-for-like sales rise 4.9% with online sales surging. Good performance too on Black Friday with online orders on the day up 125%.

Debenhams additionally claims 10 fewer days on promotion and a 12.1% increase in bought full price sell-through. Stock levels are at historically low levels, it claims.

"I am pleased with our performance in the critical Christmas trading weeks," says boss Michael Sharp, "driven by our strength in a diverse range of product categories and a strong marketing campaign focussed on gifting."

Sainsbury's Sees 'Challenging' Outlook
Sainsbury's Sees 'Challenging' Outlook

Read more:

Top five income shares

Top share picks for 2015

Inheritance tax & planning guide