Updates from Royal Mail, SABMiller and United Utilities


The FTSE 100 saw a 19-point lift on Wednesday, rising to 6,821. Sports Direct International took a 3.73% climb to 751p while AstraZeneca lifted 2.59% to 4420p. William Hill shares climbed 2.58% to 334.40p. Grocer Morrisons, again, saw more share price pressure, down 2.15% to 205p.

The Dow Jones however saw a 158.75% lift to 16,533 as stocks rebounded with Tiffany leaping 9%.

We start with Royal Mail. Profits are up modestly to £671m from £598m though group operating profit after so-called 'transformation costs' dips to £430 million. Parcels - revenues climbed 7% - now look the bigger part of the business as opposed to letters.

"Parcels are the largest contributor to Group revenue, accounting for 51 per cent," confirms Royal Mail. Operating profit margin is cut from 4.4% to 4.2%, as a result of the provision for the management reorganisation programme.

"Our key value drivers of single digit revenue growth," says Royal Mail, "margin expansion and underlying free cash flow growth remain the objectives for the Group for 2014-15." Royal Mail shares are currently selling at 572p.

Next, brewer SABMiller. Group revenue dips 1% to $34,084m. Adjusted profit before tax climbs 2% to $5,712m. Lager volumes climb 1% on an organic basis with growth in Latin America, Africa and Asia Pacific partially offsetting declines in Europe and North America.

The depreciation of key currencies against the US dollar had a significant negative impact on the financial numbers, impacting reported EBITA by approximately US$400 million says SABMiller.

"We have," says chief exec Alan Clark, "produced a resilient performance in the face of a number of headwinds, with organic, constant currency EBITA growth of 7% and strong margin improvement. Group net producer revenue growth of 3% was led by our developing market businesses in Africa and Latin America."

Finally, full year numbers from United Utilities. Underlying operating profit climbs to £641.3m from £604.2m while the total dividends per share climbs to 36.04p from 34.32p.

United claims strong performance on Ofwat and Environment Agency KPI assessments and says it's reinvesting £280m in customer and environmental benefits while accelerating its capital investment programme with a £49m increase to £836m.

United adds it has sustained bad debts "at 2.2% of regulated revenue for 2013/14, consistent with the 2012/13 full year position, mitigating the impact of recent benefit changes on customers' ability to pay."

Royal Mail
United Utilities