Across the water the Dow Jones slipped just 17 points, still keeping it this side of the 18,000 barrier (to 18,029.8); sliding oil prices kept energy stocks subdued.
We kick off with an interim from Sports Direct, whose shares have came under pressure on news that M&A boss Jeff Blue is quitting. Group sales for the 13 weeks ending 25 January 2015 were up 2.6% to £771.0m (2014: £751.6m) while gross profit is upped 7.6% to £346.9m (2014: £322.3m).
Sports Retail sales in the 13 week period climbs 2.7% to £643.2m (2014: £626.1m), and Sports Retail gross profit surges 9.4% to £297.2m (2014: £271.6m). The company remains without a finance director.
"The Board," says boss Dave Forsey, "is very confident of achieving at least our full year internal underlying EBITDA target of £360m, before the charge for the Employee Bonus Share Schemes."
Group adjusted earnings per share is down 28%. Post-tax earnings remain largely protected, it claims, by hedging, tax allowances on previous investments and midstream performance.
But bad news for the dividend: "it is with regret that, along with reducing capital expenditure and driving efficiency beyond planned levels, we have taken the difficult decision to rebase the dividend by 30%".
Lastly, six-month numbers from Go-Ahead Group. Bus operating profit climbs 8.4% to £45.1m but rail operating profit is down 2.9% to £10.2m, with margins cut to 0.9%.
The proposed interim dividend increases 4.3% to 26.6p (H1'14: 25.5p), in line with 2013/14 full year dividend increase Go-Ahead says. The company remains shortlisted for Northern and TransPennine Express franchises.
"Expectations for the full year remain unchanged," says boss David Brown, "with second half profits expected to be similar to those in the first half of the year for both our bus and rail divisions."
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