Updates from Aviva and Balfour Beatty


(FILES): This March 17, 2006 file photo shows the London Stock Exchange logo in London, England.  Merger mania gripped financial markets Wednesday, February 9, 2011 as the London and Toronto stock exchanges announced a tie-up and Deutsche Boerse and NYSE Euronext envisioned the world's largest bourse.   AFP PHOTO / Files / Ben STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

The FTSE 100 was pushed down 48 points yesterday to 6,775.3, a 0.71% drop. Admiral Group was the biggest climber yesterday, soaring 7.54% to 1526p following stronger preliminary earnings. Melrose Industries was the biggest loser, slumping 7.78% to 302.40p. Meggitt also took a 3.93% tumble to 486.6p.

The Dow Jones sank 0.22%, down 35 points, to 16,360.1, not helped by losses from Exxon Mobil.

Let's start with full numbers from insurer Aviva. Operating profit climbs 6% to £2,049 million (FY12: £1,926 million) while cash remittances climb 40% at £1,269 million (FY12: £904 million).

"Cash flows to the Group are up 40%, operating expenses are down 7%, operating profit is up 6% and Value of New Business is up 13%," says chief exec Mark Wilson. "After a £2.9 billion loss after tax last year, Aviva has delivered a £2.2 billion profit."

The company says it has cut loans by £1.7 billion to £4.1 billion. UK, France and Canada, generated a 59% increase in cash remittances, making up 80% of the total cash remitted to Group, Aviva claims.

Next, a full year update from Balfour Beatty. "Challenging" economic conditions and operational issues in UK construction plus a downturn in the Australian natural resources sector see operational profits sink 29% to £203m while pre-tax profit tumble 32% to £187m.

Increased US construction revenue has helped leave a stable order book at £13.4 billion (2012: £13.5 billion) Balfour claims and it's maintaining its 14.1p per share full-year dividend.

"The remedial actions taken in under-performing areas are delivering results and have positioned us better for the future," says chief exec Andrew McNaughton. "Continuing to improve operational delivery and supply chain management remains a particular focus."

Lastly, full year numbers from Unite Group. Earnings per share climb to 18.0 pence (2012: 9.9 pence) while adjusted NAV per share is up up 9.1% to 382 pence (2012: 350 pence), equating to a total return on equity (NAV growth plus dividends) of 10.5%.

The students property player claims a government decision to remove the student number cap in 2015 and increase places by 30,000 (6%) in 2014 strengthens longer term prospects for the sector claims the company.

"Following an active year on the financing front," says chief exec Mark Allan, "we have established a strong capital base which has enabled us both to take advantage of the current low interest rate environment for the longer term and to secure capital to support exciting growth opportunities."