Updates from Serco, Tullow Oil and Greene King

Adrian Holliday
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Greene King, Tullow Oil, Serco
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Greene King, Tullow Oil, Serco

Another hard punch for shares globally yesterday on Greek anxiety. The FTSE 100 tumbled 1.5% to 6,520.9, a 100-point drop. BHPBilliton and United Utilities Group took the steepest dives, down 4% and 3.6% respectively (to 1249p and 892p). Sainsbury's shares were also down heavily, slipping 3.2% to 265p. Standard Life was down 3.1% to 444p.

Over in the US the Dow Jones managed to put on a 23-point gain to 17,619.5 following its biggest dip of the year on Monday. There's continued worry on Chinese stocks though Asian shares on Wednesday, broadly, held steady.

We begin with a first-half trading update from outsourcer Serco. Trading in the year to date has been better than expected though expectations for the year are unchanged says Serco with revenue likely to be around £3.5bn, profit around £90m and EBITDA of around £160m.

For the first half Serco says revenues should be around £1.7bn (1H14:£2.0bn). Some organic decline: Serco blames a host of lost contracts including the Docklands Light Railway and the National Physical Laboratory.

"Whilst our recovery is at an early stage," says boss Rupert Soames, "and there will be bumps along the road, I am confident that we are doing the right things, with a stronger balance sheet and supported by an excellent management team."

We nip into Greene King next. Preliminary numbers for the 52 weeks to 3 May sees revenues up 1.1% to £1,315.3m though operating profits slips 3.5% to £256.2m. The dividend per share climbs 4.8% to 29.75p.

Retail like-for-like (LFL) climb 0.4% with Pub Partners LFL net income up 3.5%. Its Brewing & Brands own-brewed volume were up +4.2%, Greene King claims. For the last eight weeks the pubs group claims "steady trading" with retail LFL sales up 0.6%.

"Underlying earnings growth of over 9%," says chief exec Rooney Anand, "has enabled a dividend increase of 4.8%, reflecting our confidence in the strength of the business and its prospects for future growth."

Lastly TullowOil whose share price has skidded all way from 863p to 278p in the last year; currently it trades at 338.8p. Though profits look set to dip in the first half, Tullow claims production will be ramped up.

Tullow claims it's making steady progress towards project sanction in East Africa with good appraisal and test results from wells in Northern Kenya it claims, plus strong support from the Governments of Kenya and Uganda.

"We continue," says boss Aidan Heavey, "to build our inventory of exploration prospects to provide options when market conditions improve." Revenues of $800m are expected for the first half compared to $1.3bn a year ago.

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