Updates from Tate & Lyle and Imperial Tobacco


The FTSE 100 climbed just two points higher yesterday to 6,675. Tullow Oil was the biggest faller by some margin, down -6.27% to 792p, after disappointment from a key African well. Antofagasta was the biggest riser, up +2.71% to 927p.

The Dow Jones saw a 30-point drop to 15,963.

We start with a steady-as-she-goes interim from Tate & Lyle for the three months up to 31 December 2013. In Speciality Food Ingredients volumes are broadly in line with last year with strong growth in emerging markets offset by softness in developed markets.

In Bulk Ingredients, there's improved performance from US sweeteners and US ethanol but lower returns from co-products held back the division's performance overall the company claims. Overall, the Group has made "a solid start" to the final quarter.

"As a result of the operating performance in the third quarter and lower SPLENDA® Sucralose pricing in the final quarter...we expect full year profits for the year ending 31 March 2014 to be broadly in line with the comparative period."

Next, an update from Imperial Tobacco. Growth Brands continue to outperform the market with volumes growing 2% in total and 8% in growth markets says the company. Goldman Sachs recently claimed Imperial was nearing the end of its earnings downgrade cycle.

Growth Brands were 43% of volume in Q1 (+3% points versus Q1 2013) and generated 39% of tobacco net revenue (39%). "Good progress" has been achieved with its stock optimisation programme and has significantly cut inventories in a number of markets, notably in Iraq.

"A reasonable working assumption for the full year," says chief exec Alison Cooper, "continues to be for modest growth in EPS at constant exchange rates and for at least a 10% increase in dividends."

Lastly, an update from Oxford Instruments. The high tech tool operator says, year to date, order run rate is ahead of last year in Asia, Europe and North America while year to date sales remain behind the same period last year.

However the company anticipates a strong February and March "and despite the recent strength of Sterling and continuing underperformance at our Omicron facility in Germany, we are expecting performance for the year to be broadly in-line with the prior year."

The company recently competed its takeover of Andor Technology on a 525p-per-share basis; this valued Andor at £176m.

Breaking news: Lloyds Bank announces a pre-tax profit of £415m for 2013 in contrast to losses of more than £600m for the previous year.