Updates from Tesco, Unilever and Reed Elsevier

Tesco profits plunge again while chairman Richard Broadbent agrees to go

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Just a 27-point shift north for the FTSE 100 on Wednesday, ending the day at 6399.7. Admiral Group and Direct Line both saw substantial climbs, up 3.38% and 3.14% respectively (to 1285p and 279.60p). However Sainsbury's was the biggest faller, down 3.36% to 241p (Sainsbury's shares have now nearly tumbled by 50% since the start of the year). Morrisons shares also felt more pressure, slipping 2.59% to 157.90p.

Over in the US the Dow Jones reversed, losing more than 150 points to fall to 16,461; both Boeing and American Express took hits.

The big news this morning is Tesco with chairman Sir Richard Broadbent agreeing to quit (though no date for his resignation). Like-for-like sales slump 4.4% for the first half of the financial year while profits plummet to £112m - a horrendous 90% fall.

The Deloitte investigation into overstatement of expected half year profit has confirmed the total impact rises to £263m, of which £118m relates to first half trading profit. The only snippet of bright news is UK online sales, up 11%.

"Three immediate priorities are clear," says new chief exec Dave Lewis. "To recover our competitiveness in the UK, to protect and strengthen our balance sheet and to begin the long journey back to building trust and transparency into our business and brand."

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Sainbury's And Tesco Hit By Double Blow

Next, Persil-to-Marmite-to-Cornetto maker Unilever sees underlying sales growth come in at 2.1% while underlying volume growth rises to 0.3% with pricing up 1.8% overall. Unilever's Turnover dips 2.0% to €12.2 billion including a negative currency impact of 2.6%.

Market growth slowed in emerging countries, particularly in China where the Simple soap maker experienced substantial trade de-stocking. Price deflation and poor summer weather in Europe didn't help though conditions in North America have started to improve, Unilever claims.

"We expect markets," says boss Paul Polman, "to remain tough for at least the remainder of the year. We have further accelerated our initiatives to remove unnecessary cost, simplify the business and ensure that Unilever is both agile and resilient."

Lastly, Reed Elsevier. Elsevier claims continued underlying revenue growth for the first nine months of 2014 - up 4% - and has reaffirmed its outlook for the full year. Scientific, Technical & Medical saw underlying revenue growth 2%.

Risk & Business Information sees underlying revenue growth 7%: there was strong growth across insurance, business services, government and major data services, driven by volume growth and new product roll-outs.

Legal saw underlying revenue growth 1% while Exhibitions saw underlying revenue growth of 8% (7% excluding cycling and timing effects). "Growth remained strong in the US and Japan, and modest in Europe," says the company.

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