Pick of the early market news

Updated: 
Asian shares have slipped markedly overnight on the news of the death of North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il. There's also more market uncertainty today as fresh austerity eurozone measures get discussed - plus a looming £167bn IMF loan approval from all 27 EU ministers. Late last week, Fitch claimed it could downgrade six European countries. Little pre-Christmas cheer around, then.


We commence the start of the week with power provider Aggreko. A robust fourth quarter for the FTSE 100 heavyweight with underlying revenues expected to be up at least 22% year-on-year. Pre-tax profits are expected to come in at around £324m with underlying trading profits for 2011 anticipated to be up 25%.

The company expects to end the year with net debt of around £400 million, an increase of some £270 million over the prior year, with the main drivers being the very high levels of fleet investment and the return of capital to shareholders of £148 million in July.

"As we enter 2012," Aggreko boss Rupert Soames said, "demand for temporary power remains strong and we will continue to invest in the expansion of our fleet and our global network of service centres".

Next, a trading update from online grocer Ocado. Gross sales for the company have come in at approximately £643m for the full financial year, 16.7% growth on the prior year (2010: £551.1m). The company expects EBITDA for the financial year to be in the range of £27.5m to £28.5m (2010: £22.0m). However capacity constraints have hindered the last quarter.

For the full financial year, 98.3% of items were delivered as ordered and 92.3% of orders were on-time or early for their one hour delivery slots, claims Ocado.

"We are encouraged," says Tim Steiner, Ocado chief exec, "by the operational capacity improvements that we have made, but are disappointed that we did not achieve as large or as early an increase as we had originally planned. There is more work to be done and we are focused on delivering capacity and sales growth in the first half of 2012."

Lastly, software and consultancy services player Prologic. Interim number for the six months up to 30 September have seen revenues dip to £4.37m (2010: £4.94m); gross profits of £1.76m (2010: £2.12m) are also down.

"From a cash flow perspective, the business has not yet benefited from the reduction in the cost base and has had to absorb additional costs associated with the restructure," said the company.

SPONSORED FINANCIAL CONTENT