Updates from Reckitt Benckiser and Hiscox

Durex maker Reckitt Benckiser confirms Suboxone sell-off. Weak consumer spending pulls US lower


The FTSE 100 slipped almost 30 points on Friday, ending at 6,791.5. BSkyB sank 5.46% to 874.50p while GSK also slipped heavily, down 3.16% to 1423p. RBS, on the other hand, soared 10.77% to 364.20p after posting a sharp profits hike. Overall on the week though, the FTSE was up 42 points.

The Dow Jones fell 0.72% to 16,960.5 following grim US consumer spending figures.

We start with household goods operator Reckitt Benckiser. The maker of Durex and Nurofen confirmed this morning it will spin off its Suboxone pharma arm - which has faced increasing competition - in the next year, though Reckitt will still hang onto a stake in the business.

Reckitt reports a 4% climb in like-for-like sales with Q2 like-for-like net revenue growth of 3%. Its hygiene category is improved after a slow start though home performance was weak in difficult market conditions.

The Reckitt Board has declared an interim dividend of 60p per share (2013: 60p). "We will make," says boss Rakesh Kapoor, "further structural efficiencies within our business in the second half and into next year."

Next, insurer Hiscox. It claims a strong start to the year with gross premiums growing 4.6% in local currency. However H1 profit before tax slips from £1,017.9m in 2013 to £978.9m because of the impact of volatile exchange rate gusts.

Hiscox Re premium income suffered heavily, down 21.6% (13.0% in local currency) as pressure on rates continues. There's a dividend increase of 7.1% per share.

"Falling rates," says boss Bronek Masojada, "and deteriorating terms and conditions are putting pressure on the market. We've seen this before, but our discipline and strategy of balance is designed to absorb these conditions. We will seize opportunities as they present themselves in our specialty lines."

Finally, National Grid. The power provider claims solid operational and financial performance during the last six months with good operational performance complemented by filing in New York for increased capital investment allowances.

"We are maintaining our outlook for 2014/15," says chief exec Steve Holliday, "reflecting the expected delivery of another year of solid operating and financial performance and asset growth, consistent with sustaining our long term dividend policy."

Recent reports from National Grid claims the price of electricity could double in the next 20 years - up to £100 per megawatt hour by 2035. (Electricity costs have risen 20% since 2009.)

Reckitt Benckiser
National Grid

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