Updates from Asda, BAE Systems and Aggreko

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Most markets fell yesterday with the FTSE 100 taking a -1.62% hit. Natural resource companies fell hardest yesterday, with Evraz tumbling -4.99%. However BAE Systems lifted +4.12% on news of a share buy-back.

The Dow Jones finished -0.34% down yesterday at 13,880 points while the Nasdaq fell -1.04%.

First off, BAE Systems. As mentioned its shares saw a robust bounce. Despite pressure on profits not to mention job cuts, the company has announced it's spending £1bn in buying back more of its shares.

BAE Systems says it intends to up the dividend by 4% to 19.5p. Pre-tax profits have fallen recently, from £1.4bn from £1.5bn. Sales have slipped to £17.8bn from £19.2bn. The failed merger with Airbus owner EADS has also added to BAE's woes.

However the company, it claims, has benefited from the Government's Strategic Defence and Security Review. Discussions with Saudi Arabia over its Salem contract to supply Typhoon aircraft to the Gulf remains on-going.

Asda has warned that the horse meat scandal could force up meat prices. Yesterday the company release fourth quarter numbers covering the14 weeks ending 5th January 2013. Like-for-like sales in that time increased +0.1% (excluding petrol). But online sales leapt +18.8% over the fourth quarter.

For the full year, Asda's LFL sales increased +1.0% (excluding petrol). Online clothing sales are growing faster than the market, claims Clarke; Christmas sales were particularly good he says. But Clarke has expressed worry about consumer confidence and welfare cuts.

"We're pleased with our results in a tough market," said Asda boss Andy Clarke. "We continued to grow our sales while also investing in holding down the price of essentials, increasing access points to Asda's value and putting money back in customers' pockets when they need it the most."

Finally, Aggreko has announced the appointment of David Taylor-Smith, MBE as a Director of the Company, responsible for Europe, Middle East and Africa, with effect from mid March 2013.

Taylor-Smith worked for G4S between 1998 and 2012, most recently in the role of Chief Operating Officer and Regional Chief Executive of UK, Ireland and Africa and was responsible for revenues of £2.4 billion, £200 million of profit and 155,000 people working in 33 countries, including 27 countries in Africa.

"We are delighted that David will be joining Aggreko," says chief exec Rupert Soames. "He brings with him a wealth of international experience and has proved his ability to build and manage very large businesses."

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