Updates from Persimmon and Ocado

Updated: 
Some optimism from investors yesterday with the FTSE 100 climbing +1.4% to 6,307. That's the biggest daily gain for more than a month. Travis Perkins was the biggest riser, up +5.1% to 1531p while Admiral Group saw the biggest slip, down -0.9% to 1314p.

The Dow Jones ended Monday up 0.44% at 14,974. Overnight, the Nikkei 225 is up +1.44% at 14,051.
First off, Persimmon. The house builder says it completed 5,022 new homes (2012: 4,712) in the first six months of the year, an increase of 7% on the first half of 2012. Average selling price was £179,200 (2012: £171,206) for the first six months, approximately 5% ahead.

This was due to a continuing increase in the proportion of larger family housing in its sales mix. Visitors to Persimmon sites are 13% stronger than last year and cancellation rates remain at historically low levels of 16% (2012: 18%), so the company claims.

The Government's "Help to Buy" 20% shared equity scheme bought "additional momentum to the traditionally stronger spring sales season. Persimmon has secured 1,124 Help to Buy reservations since launch."

Next, a half-year update from Ocado. Ocado revenue increases 15.6% to £355.9 million (H1 2012: £308.0 million) though it reports an operating loss of £1.1 million (H1 2012: profit of £1.7 million) and a loss before tax of £3.8 million (H1 2012: profit of £0.2 million).

Ocado claims an increase in sales growth with stronger momentum in new customer growth maintained. Their first strategic customer, Morrisons, saw the signing of a 25-year agreement to provide intellectual property ("IP") and operational services for the Bradford-based online business.

"We were delighted to announce a long-term agreement with our first strategic customer, Morrisons, to provide them with IP and operating services to help launch and operate their online grocery business. This development reflects the growing shift we are seeing in favour of online grocery shopping in the UK."

Lastly, a pre-close trading update from Menzies. No material change in trading since the release of its interim on 17 May - the outlook for the full year remains unchanged says the company. Trading performance at Menzies Aviation continues "to track ahead" of the same period last year due to positive momentum overall.

That's partly down to the freight forwarding business AMI says Menzies, and last year's re-structuring of cargo operations and ongoing operational efficiencies. But magazine sales at Menzies Distribution have been weak for the first half of this year.

"Taking into account the one off benefits that occurred in the first half of 2012, this will result in a lower first half performance at this division. Cost management actions are in place for implementation in the second half."

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