Updates from National Grid, Antofagasta and Ted Baker

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A -1.1% dip for the FTSE 100 yesterday as US debt worries mounted and anti-austerity demonstrations spread across Southern Europe. The Big Board ended the day at 5,722 with Evraz the biggest faller, down -7.0%.

Across the Atlantic the Dow Jones sank -1.45%. Overnight in Asia the Hang Seng was under pressure but Japanese shares lifted.


First off, National Grid. The UK energy play claims a 21% hike rise in first-half profits. Operating profit rises 7% at constant currency excluding the impact of timing and major storms while profits before tax climb 21%. The interim dividend gets a 4% boost to 14.49p per share. The outlook is unchanged.

"I am pleased with the progress we made in the first half of the year," said CEO Steve Holliday. "More recently, our teams in the US responded in a timely, safe and effective way to restore service to our customers and limit disruption caused by 'Superstorm' Sandy."

National Grid claims restoration expenses following 'Superstorm' Sandy are not expected to exceed £100m. An investigation into the handling of the electricity recovery in the New York area is under way.

Next, a profits rise for Antofagasta. Profits climb 13% for the first nine months of the trading year thanks, in part, to higher copper output. Sales climb 16% to $4.85 billion compared with $4.17 billion. Group EBITDA climbs to $2.81 billion from $2.50 billion reported last year.

The volume of copper produced in the nine months ended 30 September 2012, says Antofagasta, was 515,800 tonnes, a 13.7% increase on the 453,500 tonnes in the same time frame last year - higher production levels from its Esperanza project.

Sales volumes in the nine months climbs to 495,000 tonnes (nine months ended 30 September 2011 - 433,100). The difference with production volumes mainly reflects timing differences due to shipping and loading schedules says the company.

Lastly, Ted Baker. The British designer brand claims a 22.1% increase in Group revenue for the 13-week period from 12th August to 10th November. Gross margins are in line with last year.

Retail sales for the period were 24.6% above the same period last year and average retail square footage rose 13.7% over the period to 269,942 square feet (2011: 237,446 sq.ft.), it claims. Wholesale sales climbed 14.2% from its US and UK wholesale businesses.

"We were pleased," the company said in a statement, "with our overall performance, particularly in the UK and also in the rest of Europe where we have opened further concessions in leading department stores in the Netherlands, Ireland and Spain as well as our first concessions in Germany."

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