Updates from Standard Life, CRH and John Menzies

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Another small slip for the FTSE 100. It finished -15.2 points yesterday at 5,831. The biggest faller was Petrofac, down -5.17%. The biggest riser was Schroders, up +0.85%.

More optimism today in Asia, with the Nikkei rising +0.5% and South Korea's Kospi climbing more than +1%. However there were no clear economic data to cheer on these lifts.

We start with a 15% H1 operating profits rise from Standard Life. Fee based revenue increased to £620m (H1 2011: £611m) it claims with operating profit before tax up 15% to £302m (H1 2011: £262m) helped by a significant improvement in UK performance.
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Group assets under administration of £204.2bn (FY 2011: £198.4bn) and the interim dividend climbs 6.5% to 4.90p. These results show that Standard Life is performing well, claims chief exec David Nish.

"We have delivered increased profits, cash flow and dividends and we are achieving ongoing improvements in operational and financial performance. The UK results, where profits benefited from higher income and significantly lower costs, demonstrate the strength and scalability of our propositions and our brand."

Next, an interim from building materials player CRH. There's no change in operating profit (€184m) but EBITDA is down -1% to €568m. However sales revenues climb +5% to €8,588m. The dividend per share is maintained at 18.5 cents.

Trading results reflect a positive start to the year for its Americas operations, says CRH, which benefited from favourable early weather conditions and a generally firmer tone in construction markets in the United States.

But in Europe trading was adversely impacted by very severe weather conditions in February, plus "deteriorating confidence as uncertainty continued regarding Eurozone economic issues."

Lastly, a profits fall for John Menzies. First half pre-tax profit came in at £18.3m compared with £21.4 million pounds and turnover for H1 slips from £1,005.7m to £988.4m. However underlying operating profits are up 12% on a constant currency basis claims the retailer.

The dividend rises to 7.35p from 7.0p and the company claims strong operational disciplines on cash and costs.

"The underlying performance of the Group is good and our expansion plans remain on track," says chairman Iain Napier. "The resilient business models that we have in place at both operating divisions are allowing the Group to continue to grow."

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