Updates from Morrisons, RBS and Next

New numbers from Morrisons disappoint but high street Next sales soar

savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100  The FTSE 100 saw a tiny 1.1 point rise on Wednesday, taking it to 6,830, despite a brace of new corporate news. Though solid gains were earned by Kingfisher and Barratt, AdmiralGroup saw a 4.64% sell-off to 1234p while ITV dropped 2.57% to 212p. ArmHoldings, down 2.42% to 949p and SportsDirectInternational, down 1.67% to 708p, also took some pressure.

Over in the US, the Dow Jones lifted almost 55 points to 17,068 with both McDonalds and GoldmanSachs seeing gains.

We start with keenly awaited Morrisons numbers, which are not good. Total turnover is clipped 4.9% to £8.5bn (2013/14: £8.9bn) while like-for-like sales down 7.4%. Underlying profit before tax slumps 51% to £181m (2013/14: £371m).

Underlying earnings per share for the retailer tumbles 52% to 5.74p (2013/14: 11.92p) and profit before tax slips to £239m (2013/14: £344m). The interim dividend rises 5% to 4.03p (2013/14: 3.84p).

"Conditions are tough," says non-exec chairman Sir Ian Gibson, "and the industry is going through unprecedented change. Our first-half results reflect the reset of the business we announced in March. Morrisons is now well underway with building the foundations for a better future."

We stay on the high street for new half-year numbers for Next. Total sales climbed 10.3% ahead on last year to £1,849.6m. Retail stores and NEXT Directory (its online business) both deliver decent growth, up 7.5% to £1,075.6m and 16.2% to £694.3m respectively.

Profit before tax rises 19.3%. In the last six months NEXT has seen its strongest sales growth for several years. But the fashion player warns that the circumstances are unusual: low interest rates, increasing availability of credit - and much better summer weather.

It forecasts the third quarter "will grow by +10% and the fourth by +4%. This may look unambitious for the fourth quarter but the number needs to be taken in the context of the very strong sales performance in the final quarter last year."

Lastly, RBS - it employs 11,500 people in total - has confirmed a Yes vote for Scotland would see it decamp south of the border. "RBS believes that this is the responsible and prudent thing to do and something that its customers, staff and shareholders would expect it to do," it says.

Lloyds, owner of Scottish Widows and the Halifax, has also confirmed a similar arrangement. Share prices in financial institutions vulnerable to a Yes vote have taken hits recently, in contrast to HSBC or Barclays - barely affected in comparison.

RBS adds: "The vote on independence is a matter for the Scottish people. Scotland has been RBS's home since 1727. RBS intends to retain a significant level of its operations and employment in Scotland to support its customers there and the activities of the whole Bank."

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