Updates from Burberry and Centrica

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A 96-point cut for the FTSE 100 yesterday, slipping to 6,630. The -1.44% jolt overall saw steep-ish falls for RSA Insurance, down -4.84% to 104.10p with BSkyB falling further also, down -4.17% to 805p.

Across the pond, the Dow Jones however soared almost 70 points, ending Wednesday at 15,821.
We commence with bags-to-macs fashion player, Burberry. Total revenues climbed 17% to £1.03bn helped by a 17% boost in retail revenues to £694m. Reported pre-tax profits for the six months to 30 September increases to £159m compared to just under £112m last year.

Earnings per share though dipped to 28.4p from 29p; however the Burberry interim dividend is up 10% to 8.8p. The upcoming new boss of Burberry, Christopher Bailey, faced City investors this week.

Boss Angela Ahrendts said there is continued selective investment "and infrastructure efficiencies to drive sustainable profit growth across the portfolio, especially with the significant long-term potential of our fifth product division, Beauty."

Next, an interim from British Gas owner, Centrica. Assuming normal weather conditions for the remainder of the year, Centrica expects its residential energy supply margin to be slightly lower than last year, a little under 5% after tax.

In British Gas Business, market conditions are "challenging". That means full year profitability is expected to be significantly lower than in 2012, so it claims. There is continued margin pressure on its North American energy supply businesses, particularly in power sales to business customers.

"We are beginning to see," says the company, "some pick-up in the market for central heating installations, with the number increasing by 5% in the first ten months of 2013 compared to 2012."

We end with rather downbeat WH Smith numbers for the 10-week period 1 September to 9 November. Total group sales were down 3% with like-for-like sales down 4% compared to the same period last year.

WH Smith Travel total sales were up 2% while like-for-like sales were down 2%. Gross margins did increase though.

"Whilst the current climate," says WH Smith, "continues to be uncertain, we remain a resilient business and are well positioned for continued profitable growth both in the UK and internationally."