Updates from National Power and QinetiQ


More negative drift for the FTSE 100 yesterday. The index slipped almost 17 points to 6,681 points. Aberdeen Asset Management rose strongly, up +3.54% to 492p, retrieving all of the previous day's losses. Behind Aberdeen climbed easyJet, up +2.38% to 1377p.

The Dow Jones finished Wednesday down -0.41% at 15,900.8.

We commence with half-year figures from National Grid. Operating profit is 1% lower at £1,572m while profit before tax at £979m, 7% lower reflecting temporary additional cost of pre-financing asset growth, claims National Grid.

There's 2013/14 capital expenditure of around £3.5bn, net of efficiency savings, expected to push regulated asset growth of around 6%. Overall performance in the first six months is consistent with Group expectations for the full year, claims the company.

"Our UK businesses," says chief exec Steve Holliday, "started their first year under the new RIIO price controls well, making good early progress and are on track to deliver strong returns for the year as a whole."

Next, chemicals company Johnson Matthey. Its half year numbers reveal a 31% climb in revenues, from £4,892m this time last year to £6,411m. Underlying profits before tax climbs 13% to £202.1m from £180.1m while earnings per share are 24% higher, at 86p.

Its Process Technologies arm saw sales climb 15% and underlying operating profit rose 17% due to strong catalyst demand. Recently Credit Suisse reaffirmed their Neutral rating on the stock.

"In the second half," says chief exec Neil Carson, "the group's long standing arrangements with Anglo American Platinum Limited (Anglo Platinum) will expire on 31st December 2013 and this will impact profitability in the fourth quarter."

Finally, we end with interim half-year numbers from defence operator QinetiQ. Underlying operating profit slumps from £95.3m this time last year to £59.2m. Revenues slip to £599.6m compared with £685.5m a year ago.

There's a hike in the dividend per share, from 1.1p to 1.4p, reflecting a re-basing of last year's final dividend. QinetiQ claims they still maintain full guidance for the full year, despite the difficult market conditions.

"Although," says boss Leo Quinn, "the short-term range of possible outcomes remains wider than usual, particularly in Global Products, the Board is maintaining its expectations for overall Group performance in the current year absent any material changes in customer requirements."