Updates from Kingfisher, Severn Trent & Tate & Lyle


Just a 6.28 point rise for the FTSE 100 on Wednesday, to 6,851.2. Smith & Nephew was the biggest riser, up 4.25% to 993.50p while the LSE saw a 2.57% climb to 1955p. Hargreaves Lansdown shares rose 2.18% to 1216p. The biggest overall loser yesterday though was Royal Mail, down 2.73% to 516p as competitive pressure concern grows.

Over in the US the Dow Jones slipped 42.32 points to 16,633 as the bond market picked up.

First off, an optimistic first quarter update from B&Q and Screwfix owner Kingfisher. Sales climb 6.1% (+6.1% like-for-like) and retail profit surges 20.3% to £142 million helped, the company acknowledges, by improved weather conditions.

B&Q UK & Ireland's total sales grew 10.5% to £1,008 million (+9.7% LFL; +3.5% 2 year LFL). Sales of outdoor seasonal and building products, which can represent up to 30% of total Q1 sales says the company, surged 30%.

Screwfix grew total sales by 24.2% (+12.0% LFL) to £192 million. "We have made a strong start to the year," says boss Sir Ian Cheshire, "capitalising on more favourable weather conditions right across Europe to achieve sales and profit growth in France, the UK & Poland, our three largest markets."

Next, preliminary annual numbers from Severn Trent. Group turnover rises 1.4% to £1,856.7m while underlying group profit climbs 4.3% to £516.8m. Underlying group profit before tax climbs 7.1% to £269.1m.

There's a 6.0% hike year-on-year of the dividend to 80.40p. Severn claims customer service, sewer flooding and supply interruptions are all improving with improved or stable performance on 10 out of 14 Ofwat key performance indicators, year on year.

"Our tax position this year," says chief exec Tony Wray, "reflects an outline agreement we have reached with HMRC on a long standing discussion regarding overpayments of tax in prior periods and we have now factored this into our business plan for 2015 - 2020."

Lastly, overall final numbers from Tate & Lyle. Adjusted operating profit dips 1% at constant currency to £349m while pre-tax profits slip to £290m from £301m. The dividend per share through rises 5.3% to 27.6p.

Profit growth from starch-based speciality ingredients and Food Systems, along with a year of growth in emerging markets was offset, says the company, by the impact of a cold US spring followed by the recent prolonged winter.

"While we will continue to face sucralose [artificial sweetener] pricing headwinds in the current year," says Tate & Lyle, "our strong innovation pipeline, robust balance sheet and continued growth in emerging markets means we are well placed to deliver growth over the longer term."

Severn Trent
Tate & Lyle