Updates from Severn Trent and British Land

Imperial Tobacco shares lose their puff


The FTSE 100 dipped 35 points or 0.53% to 6,710.4 on Tuesday. Imperial Tobacco Group saw the biggest slip, down 3.69% to 2638p as investors absorbed the news of its Blu acquisition from Lorillard, plus Winston, Maverick and Salem brands. Sports Direct International shares also fell, down 2.56% to 704.50p while easyJet shares rose 2.65% to 1277p.

Stateside, the Dow Jones lifted just 5.2 points to 17,060.6 though small caps took a hit on new Janet Yellen comments on the future travel of interest rates.

We commence with Severn Trent. Trading across the group has been in line with its expectations and guidance for the period 1 April to 15 July claims the company. For the full year Severn expects consumption across its measured income base to be lower.

The dividend for 2014/15 is set to be 84.90p, representing growth of 5.6% year on year claims the company (currently under fire for its £650,000 remuneration deal for new boss Liv Garfield).

"Operating costs," says the company, "are expected to rise year on year due to the impact of inflation and increases in quasi taxes and power costs, partially offset by efficiency improvements."

Next, an update from Oxford Instruments. Orders in the first quarter of the year were above the same period last year despite the worsening foreign exchange environment. This was on both a reported and constant currency organic basis says Oxford.

"On a constant currency basis, orders were ahead of the same period last year in our major trading regions of Europe, North America and Asia," says the company. "Excluding Andor, acquired in January 2014, orders were ahead in North America but lagged in Europe and Asia."

No change in the overall financial position - the Oxford Board anticipates it will continue to make progress with its expectations for the remainder of the financial year.

Lastly, British Land. Retail occupancy climbs 10 basis points to 98.6%1 with footfall up 2.5%, continuing to outperform benchmark (down 0.8%). Overall occupancy including recently completed developments climbs 50 bps at 96.6% it says.

BL claims £115 million of UK retail disposals since the start of the financial year. First quarter dividend is confirmed at 6.92 pence, 2.5% ahead of last year.

"We've signed," says chief exec Chris Grigg, "a range of attractive leasing deals across our portfolio and the improving investment market has enabled us to continue to make selected retail sales at prices ahead of valuation."

Severn Trent
British Land
Oxford Instruments