Updates from Hays, Unite Group and Playtech

Morrisons shares creep higher but Sainsbury weakens

Updated: 
savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100The FTSE 100 gained just 7.9 points on Wednesday, taking it to 6,830.6. Petrofac and Fresnillo took the biggest lifts, up 2.32% (to 1149p) and 1.75% (to 928.50p) respectively. Morrisons share price crept further north, up 1.43% to 184.50p thanks to better sales news, finally.

However Sainsbury's in comparison was the board's weakest performer, weakening 2.59% to 304.20p. The Dow Jones pushed higher again - just - but the 15 point rise, ending the day at 17,122, was limited. Revised US GDP data is out today.

Let's start with preliminary results from Hays for the full year. Operating profit climbs 12% to £140.3m while pretax profit also climbs 12% to £132.2m. Basic earnings per share lift 19% to 6.13p.

Downsides? Asia Pacific net fees are down 6% while Australian net fees slip 13%, but business is stable through H2 Hays claims. Its global Oil & Gas business is making good progress, it claims additionally.

"We saw," says chief exec Alistair Cox, "improved conditions in several key markets, notably in the UK, Asia, North America and many European countries, and took advantage by investing to drive growth."

Next, student accommodation player Unite Group. For the six months to June, there's EPRA earnings up 34% to £20.4 million (30 June 2013: £15.2 million) while earnings per share lift 17.2% to 10.9 pence (30 June 2013: 9.3 pence).

The interim dividend is upped 37.5% to 2.2 pence per share (2013 interim: 1.6 pence) bringing forward 4.5% EPS yield target by a year to 2014 says the company. Reservations for the 2014/15 academic year at 92%, compared to 90% at the same time last year.

"Given the positive rental growth outlook," says chief exec Mark Allan, "a growing development pipeline and USAF's recent acquisition of a high quality regional portfolio, we retain strong momentum."

Lastly, gamer Playtech. Total revenues climb 21.2% to €214.4 million (H1/13: €176.8 million) while adjusted EBITDA climbs 28.2% to €97.6 million (H1/13: €76.2 million).

Adjusted earnings per share rises 45.4% to 33.3 € cents (H1/13: 22.9 € cents) while there's an increased interim dividend of 8.9 € cents per share (H1/13: 7.8 € cents per share).

Recently Playtech agreed to provide Sky Bet with casino and dealer offerings. In March, Playtech also signed a similar agreement with Ladbrokes.

Read more:
'Capital flight risk' after a Yes
Cheap homes: why we should sell them to landlords
Entire cast of soap opera sacked over pay dispute

Cameron Announces £200m Islam-Friendly Bond