Updates from FirstGroup and Land Securities

A 30-point fall for the FTSE 100 yesterday, dipping to 6,556. The biggest faller was Persimmon, down -4.90% to 1241p while ITV fell -3.04% to 156.4p. But mining stocks - Fresnillo was up +6.00% to 1016p - performed strongly, helped by a weaker dollar.

Overnight, the Nikkei 225 is down -0.16% at 14,575.

We start with a Q1 interim from bus-and-rail operator FirstGroup. Overall trading in line with management's expectations with recovery programmes in First Student and UK Bus on track, it claims. Performance in First Transit is described as "solid" plus continued revenue growth in UK Rail.

"Our UK Rail division delivered further solid performance during the period with like-for-like passenger revenue increased by +5.5%," says the company. For UK Bus, like-for-like passenger revenue increased +1.4%.

The company recently had a major rights issue to help bolster its balance sheet; it also had to slash its dividend but some investors remain divided over the company turnaround strategy, headed by new boss Tim O'Toole.

Next, Smiths Group, and a clipping of full-year profit expectations - up to £15m lower.
Smiths Detection, says the company, had identified three contracts "entered into prior to 2010 are anticipated to be materially adverse to previous expectations." Legal costs may follow.

As a result, headline operating profit for the Group overall is likely to be up to £15m below current expectations. Smiths Detection accounts for around 17 percent of revenues. Results for the financial year ended 31 July 2013 will be announced on 18 September.

Lastly, Land Securities reports increased interest in its developments with nearly full occupancy maintained. There's £6.0m of investment lettings, with a further £11.4m of lettings in solicitors' hands; voids in the like-for-like portfolio unchanged at 2.0% at 30 June 2013 it claims.

Land Securities have committed to the £260m development at 1 & 2 New Ludgate, EC4, with Skanska Construction as main contractor for the 379,000 sq ft scheme; completion is due in April 2015.

"In London," says chief exec Robert Noel, "demand is increasing and we remain confident that our portfolio is well positioned and our developments well timed. Overall, the retail market remains challenging but we are maintaining very high levels of occupancy in our centres and are pleased with our increased exposure to leisure."