Updates from Sports Direct and Greene King


The FTSE 100 climbed 48.6 points on Friday to 6,739.9, rising +0.73%. Tullow Oil was the biggest climber as takeover talk from Statoil gained traction, pushing Tullow to 909.50p. Persimmon shares also rebounded strongly, up +6.28% to 1354p.

However the Dow Jones finished slightly down, giving away almost eight points, at 16,437.

We commence with news that Sports Direct has picked up a 4.63% stake in Debenhams. Britain's biggest sports retailer has picked up 56.8 million shares, it said in a stock exchange announcement this morning.

The shares buy-up took place without any warning to the Debenhams board. But Sports Direct says it has every intention of being "a supportive shareholder". Responding, Debenhams says it's "open minded with regard to exploring operational opportunities to improve its performance".

Shares of Sports Direct itself has soared more than 80% in the last year. Shares in Debenhams dived more than 12% following a post-Christmas profits warning - the second profits warning in a year. Pre-tax profits are expected to slump 25%.

Next, an interim from Greene King for the 36 weeks up to 5 January. Retail like-for-like sales climb 5.0% in the last six weeks and are 3.8% up year-to-date. Average EBITDA per pub in Pub Partners is up 5.6%, Greene King claims.

It reports strong growth in Brewing & Brands with claimed core own-brewed volume up 5.8%. Retail like-for-like sales over two key trading weeks of the year were up more than 6% - Greene King sold a record 62,000 meals on Christmas Day.

This drove record retail sales on Christmas Day of £3.1m. "Total sales in Greene King Retail," says the company, "our largest and fastest growing business, were up 8.2% after 36 weeks, with like-for-like sales growth of 3.8%."

Lastly, Homeserve says the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will likely hit it with a £34.5m penalty - assuming an early settlement discount of 30%. This is higher than the anticipated and HomeServe is upping provision by £30m it says.

"HomeServe will now engage in discussions with the FCA to finalise the Notice and do not propose making any further comment during these discussions."

Homeserve claims its ongoing activities of the UK business are unaffected and continues to trade in line with expectations. HomeServe will issue its Interim Management Statement on 5 February 2014.