Updates from ABF, Unite Group and Atkins

Primark owner ABF confirms earnings will rise and there's some support for BP shares

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savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100Miners helped keep the FTSE 100 down on Friday, losing 22 points to 6,855.1. There were rises though for BP, up 2.59% to 466.80p despite worry about additional US fines from its Gulf of Mexico spill. Smith & Nephew shares lifted more than 1% to 1065p. In contrast Fresnillo and Randgold investors saw losses of more than 4%.

In the US, the Dow Jones climbed almost 68 points to 17,137, boosted by utility stock dividends though there remains concern about the amount of new jobs the US economy is currently able to generate.

We start with an update from Primark owner, Associated British Foods. Adjusted earnings per share for the full year are expected to be ahead of last year it says with strong operating profit performances from Primark and an improvement from its ingredients business.

These are expected to offset the adverse effect of lower sugar prices and the impact of some £50m on the translation of overseas results arising from the strengthening of sterling ABF says.

"The underlying tax rate," ABF says, "will be lower than last year reflecting a further reduction in the UK corporation tax rate and a change in the profit mix." ABF shares currently sell for 2877p compared to 3125p in early July.

Next, students properly player Unite Students, has the go-ahead for planning approval of a 800-student site in Portsmouth city centre. Completion is anticipated in time for the 2016/17 academic year.

The Greetham Street site is being bought from Portsmouth City Council. The development represents a £42 million investment, and is projected to have a development yield of 9.5% and should add 1.5p to earnings per share, claims Unite.

"The acquisition forms part of our regional development strategy," says managing director of property Richard Simpson, "where there is a growing demand for student accommodation. This year we have seen university applications continue to outstrip available places."

Lastly, Atkins says it has completed its acquisition of Nuclear Safety Associates (NSA), a 130-people engineering and technical services firm, for a cash sum of US$15m (approximately £9m), together with a potential US$12m (approximately £7m), subject to the future performance.

Atkins claims it has a well established client base in the US nuclear market; in the year to 31 December 2013, NSA reported revenue of around US$25m (approximately £15m).

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