Shares recovered sharply yesterday as Russia-Ukraine war fears slipped: the FTSE 100 climbed 1.72% to 6,823, a 115.4 point lift. Ashtead Group was the biggest climber by a very substantial margin, up 13.0% to 956p. Miner Fresnillo saw the biggest drift, down 4.69%, ending at 924.50p.
There was also strong gains for the German Dax, up 2.46% and the Dow Jones, up 1.41% (to 16,395).
We begin with preliminary numbers from insurer Legal & General. Operating profit is up 7% to £1,158m while earnings per share climb 10% to 15.20p. Profit before tax is up 10% to £1,134m. The full-year dividend is up 22% to 9.30p per share.
Legal and General recently bought into Global Index Advisors, a US $16bn index fund manager, to take advantage of the US retirement market.
"We have grown dividends again by over 20%," says group chief exec Nigel Wilson, "and due to the strength of the business intend to move dividend cover from 1.8 towards 1.5 times over the next two years."
Next, manufacturing buy-out specialist Melrose Industries. Revenues for the year climb to £1,732.8 million (2012: £1,051.1 million) while profit before tax soars to £226.1 million (2012: £117.9 million). Earnings per share climbs to 12.8p (2012: 8.8p).
"Almost £1bn," says chairman Christopher Miller, "was raised from disposals which trebled shareholders' money and Elster [which Melrose bought in 2012] increased its profits by over a third in our first full year of ownership."
Lastly, final numbers from construction services player Carillion. Revenues dipped 7% to £4.1bn while pre-tax profits slumped 33% to £110.6m. However the proposed full-year dividend per share climbs 1% to 17.50p.
The reductions in underlying profit before taxation and underlying earnings per share reflect business rescaling and an increase in net financial expenses, claims Carillion, which has just completed a 10-year deal with Wipro.
"Overall, we expect market conditions to remain challenging in 2014," said the company in a statement, "but with a strong order book, good revenue visibility and substantial pipeline of contract opportunities the Group is now well positioned for the future.""