Updates from BT and Premier Farnell


Little change for the FTSE 100 on Thursday. The Board saw an almost six-point drop to 6,538. Diageo lost the most fizz, down 4.71% to 1820p while G4S fell 3.73% to 237.70p. Sales growth anxiety worried Diageo investors as the Guinness maker disclosed weakened emerging market demand.

The Dow Jones recovered 0.70% to 15,848 points.

We start with a profits rise from BT. Third quarter numbers see revenues rise 2% to £4,599m while adjusted profits before tax climb 8% to £722m. Earnings per share are up 12% to 7.3p. High growth regions outside the UK see double digit earnings.

BT claims it achieved particularly strong audience figures in December and the exclusive rights to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League should reinforce this position it says.

"Our strategic investments are delivering," claims chief exec Gavin Patterson. "It was another record quarter for fibre take-up and there are now more than 18 million premises with access to our fibre. That number will grow further as the BDUK programme progresses."

Next, gaming business Rank Group. Adjusted profits before tax fall 23% to £27.7m. Adjusted earnings per share falls 22% to 5.3p. Rank claims cost reduction and revenue enhancement actions are in place to improve numbers for the second half.

The integration of 19 acquired casinos has been successful and Rank claims they're pleased with their performance so far. Rank is currently looking at the Northern Ireland market for the construction of casino in Belfast.

"As previously guided," says chief exec Ian Burke, "the first half of the current financial year was challenging with like-for-like brand performances down on the same period last year. Our London Park Tower casino has underperformed against a strong comparative period."

We finish with a pre-close statement from electronics distribution player Premier Farnell.
Group sales per day for the full year are expected to grow 2.6% year on year as
all divisions delivered growth in the second half. Group sales are expected to grow 3.5% year on year in the second half.

It's anticipated a stronger global economy could boost revenues, though competitors like Amazon increasingly chafe. Currently Premier is trading close to 10 times its annual profits. It recently saw a Buy rating from Cantor Fitzgerald.

"Given current market conditions," says chief exec Laurence Bain, "we anticipate that the Group's operating margin will be maintained at a similar level in the 2014/15 financial year as
we seek to optimise business performance and enhance our customer proposition."