Updates from Wolseley, Stagecoach and LondonMetric Property

Adrian Holliday
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Wolseley, Stagecoach, LondonMetric Property
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Wolseley, Stagecoach, LondonMetric Property

Pressure on stocks continued on Monday with a 30-point dip for the FTSE 100, ending the day at 6,953.5. Weir Group and Anglo American bore the brunt of the pessimism, down 3.3% and 2.2% respectively (to 1956p and 1003p). There were also losses for Imperial Tobacco Group and Standard Chartered. Ashtead Group shares however saw some recovery, up 2.7% to 1151p while Dixons Carphone climbed almost 2% to 484.70p.

Stateside, the Dow was was up 30 points to 18,040.3 helped by a rash of better manufacturing numbers, up 0.2% overall; optimism about a Fed rate hike delay also helped momentum. In the background however is a Greek €300m debt payment to the IMF, due Friday.

We start with a third quarter interim from Wolseley. Wolseley claims revenue of ongoing businesses is 12.4% ahead of last year at constant exchange rates; trading profit comes in at £195m, 20.3% ahead at constant exchange rates.

Foreign exchange movements increased trading profit by £11m. Wolseley claims strong cash generation with net debt of £1,127m (31 Jan 2015: £1,221m), after payment of the interim ordinary dividend of £78m.

"Gross margins were ahead as we continued to focus on improving the mix of customers, suppliers and products," says chief exec Ian Meakins. "Operating expenses were well controlled and we generated decent flow through to trading profit."

Next, LondonMetric Property. Reported profit for the year up to 31 March climbs 27% to £159.5m while the NAV per share is up 15% to 139.4p. It claims an 18.8% property return from its retail and distribution portfolio.

Gross rental income increased 19.5% to £74.0m (including joint ventures); there's a proposed final dividend of 3.5p per share bringing total dividend for the year to 7.0p per share.

"Our portfolio continues to grow," says chairman Patrick Vaughan, "and we have taken advantage of a strong property market to sell some institutional assets recently at very attractive prices which, whilst delivering strong total returns, has tempered our earnings growth in the short term."

We end with news from Stagecoach that a Stagecoach-Abellio joint venture has been shortlisted by the Department for Transport for the new East Anglia franchise. Abellio East Anglia Limited is one of three operators shortlisted.

Stagecoach holds a 40% share of Anglia Rail Holdings while the current Greater Anglia franchise has been operated by Abellio since February 2012.

"There is good momentum in UK rail franchising," says Stagecoach boss Martin Griffiths, "and our interest in the East Anglia contract is part of our strategy of growing our rail portfolio with selected bids either individually or with selected partners."

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