Updates from Sky, ARM Holdings and Associated British Foods

Sky revenues surge 5% meanwhile ABF first-half profits plunge on sugar price weakness

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savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100The FTSE 100 heaved itself back across the 7,000 threshold on Monday, ending almost 58 points higher at 7,052.1. points. Ashtead Group climbed almost 3% to 1144p while Anglo American surged 2.7% to 1038p; Rio Tinto shares climbed 2.6% while BHP Billiton shares were also up, 2.4%, to 1481.50p.

The Dow Jones meanwhile re-crossed the 18,000 mark, up 1.1% or 208 points to 18,034.9 helped by a strong tech rally, witness a 3.4% climb from IBM and a 3.1% rise from Microsoft. Stimulus moves from the Chinese Central Bank also helped momentum.

We start with Sky and a 5% increase in group revenue to £8,453m plus a 20% increase in operating profit to £1,025m for the last nine months. Sky also claims 242,000 new customer additions in Q3, almost 70% more than this time last year.

It claims "exceptional" customer growth across all territories with a record growth rate in Germany and Austria and the best Q3 performance in Italy for three years (Sky boss Jeremy Darroch recently said innovation in Italy and Germany was cheaper to develop).

"Our teams are working well together right across the new Sky," says Darroch. "Five months in, our integration plans are progressing well and we are well positioned for the expanded growth opportunity ahead."

Next, Primark owner ABF. Minus losses on sale and closure of businesses and exceptional items, ABF operating profit slips 24% to £353m. The company says profit before tax slumps 51% to £213m.

Dividends per share climb 3% to 10.0p. Profitability at AB Sugar was substantially lower as a result of much weaker EU sugar prices, acknowledges the company. However Primark's performance continued to surge strongly.

"Primark's performance," says ABF, "was driven by significant expansion of selling space and superior trading by the stores opened in the last 12 months and plans for its entry into the north-east of the US are well advanced."

Lastly, a Q1 update from microchip designer ARM Holdings. Group revenues in US$ climb 14% year-on-year (GBP revenues up 22%). ARM says it expects group dollar revenues for the full-year 2015 to be "at least in line" with current market expectations.

The company has not been immune to US dollar strength though its share price has surged in the last year ranging from 778.50p to 1211p (current price 1150p). More broadly, there is concern about slowing long-term smartphone growth and tightening competition.

Boss Simon Segars remains upbeat: "As the world becomes more digital and more connected we continue to see an increase in the demand for ARM's smart and energy-efficient technology, which is driving both our licensing and royalty revenues."

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