Updates from Sports Direct and BAT

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More lift for the FTSE 100: the Big Board climbed 41 points on Tuesday to reach 6,695, up +0.62%. Durex-to-Strepsils maker Reckitt Benckiser was the biggest climber, up +5.20% to 234p while BHP Billiton climbed +4.11% to 1950.50p.

The Dow Jones climbed +0.49% to 15,467, part-boosted on more tapering hope and stronger earnings from several major US companies.
We commence with a trading update from Sports Direct. Group total sales for the nine weeks ending 29 September were up +15.1% to £463.7m (FY13: £402.7m) says the company and gross profit was up +19.4% to £199.8m (FY13: £167.4m)

Sports Retail sales for the same period increased +14.8% to £395.7m (FY13: £344.7m) and Sports Retail gross profit increased 19.7% to £170.9m (FY13: £142.8m). Brands division sales increased 12.9% to £36.0m (FY13: £31.9m).

"Since the end of September," says chief exec Dave Forsey, "trading has remained strong and the Board is therefore confident of reaching the full year internal stretch underlying EBITDA target of £310m."

Next, a half-year update from Argos and Homebase owner Home Retail Group up to 31 August. Group sales climb +3% to £2,596m with like-for-like sales up +2.3% at Argos, and +5.9% at Homebase. The cash gross margin climbs +1% to £962m.

Benchmark operating profit is up +40% to £26.4m claims HRG while the benchmark profit before tax is up +53% to £27.4m. Argos recorded its fifth consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth with stronger internet sales, powered by the growth in mobile commerce.

"Homebase," says the company, "traded strongly through its peak trading period, recording its best half of like-for-like sales performance since acquisition in 2002, and has now achieved 18 consecutive quarters of market share growth in the shed sector."

Lastly, an update from British American Tobacco for the nine months ending 30 September. Group revenue at constant rates of exchange grew +3.5%, driven by strong pricing. At current exchange rates, revenue grew +0.7%, as movements in some key trading currencies continued to impact reported revenues.

Cigarette volume from subsidiaries was 501 billion, down by 3.2%, with underlying cigarette volume declining 2.4%. Growth in many markets, including Bangladesh and the Philippines, was more than offset by lower volumes in Brazil, Russia, Egypt and Western Europe says the company.

"Other tobacco products performed well," says BAT, "with Fine Cut tobacco growing, driven by a 3.3% increase in Western Europe. Pall Mall, the biggest Fine Cut brand in Western Europe, was up by 10.7% with growth in Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Germany."