Updates from Bunzl, Stagecoach and WPP

Royal Mail shares rise while advertising player WPP warns on emerging geo-political worry from Eastern Europe and the Middle East

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The FTSE 100 barely budged on Friday, losing just 2.41 points to 6,775.2. Royal Mail and Hargreaves Lansdown took the most positive shifts, rising 2.16% (to 449.80p) and 1.85% (to 1154p) respectively. Vodafone also lifted, up 1.60% while Fresnillo experienced the biggest loss, down 1.76% to 921.50p.

No bank holiday in the US where the Dow Jones continued its rise upwards, climbing 65 points to 17,076.8

We start with ad and media player WPP first. Reported revenues climb 2.7% to £5.469 billion in sterling, up 11.3% at $9.135 billion in dollars claims WPP. Profit before tax climbs to £491 million up 15.0%, up 33.7% in constant currency.

Dividends per share lifts to 11.62p up 10%, a pay-out ratio of 40% versus 37% last year; the targeted dividend pay-out ratio of 45% looks likely to be achieved this year ahead of schedule it says.

"Whilst clients may be more confident than they were in September 2008, they broadly remain unwilling to take further risks, particularly given so many political flash points," says the company, the Middle East and Russia-Ukrainian stress looming large.

Next, an interim from Stagecoach. The overall profitability of the Group remains "satisfactory" says Stagecoach; no material change to adjusted earnings per share for the year up to 30 April 2015. For UK bus like-for-like passenger volume growth for the twelve week period climbed 0.9%.

In London, revenue growth has been hit by traffic disruption related to continuing road works. But UK Rail is in line with expectations and Stagecoach is still in discussions with the DfT regarding planned extensions to South West Trains and East Midlands Trains franchises.

In the US, Megabus.com increased revenue by 14.9% in the three months ended 31 July 2014.

Lastly, outsourcer Bunzl. Operating profit for the first half of the year lifts 4% to £197.2m while pre-tax profits climbed 5% to £176.6m. The interim dividend climbs 10% to 11p.

The group operating margin rises 30 basis points to 6.7% with increased margins in all business areas claims Bunzl.

"The impact of our recent acquisition activity," says chief exec Michael Roney, "combined with the continued development of the underlying business should lead to further growth at constant exchange rates in the second half of the year."

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