Updates from Reckitt Benckiser, Spectris and AstraZeneca

Despite disappointing Eurozone economic data the FTSE 100 climbs but Greek worries continue to nag


The FTSE 100 crept 25 points higher - to 7,053.6 - on Thursday fuelled by miners largely: Anglo American surged 4.7% to 1,062p (despite failing to meet analyst production targets) with Antofagasta matching that pace, to 754.50p, helped by news it was selling its water business. Fresnillo climbed 3.5% to 727.50p. Things weren't so pretty for Legal & General whose shares slid more than 4.3% to 265.10p.

The Dow Jones - up more than 230 points on the week overall - pushed 20.4 points higher with a 2.9% climb for IBM though 3M slipped more than 3%.

We start the morning with new numbers from household powerbrand player Reckitt Benckiser. The Finish and Harpic maker says it's on track to achieve its FY 2015 financial targets with like-for-like (LFL) net revenue growth of 4%.

North America saw £517m of sales, up 3% LFL with Europe/North America up 5% (good performances from the UK and Spain). However there was a "soft start" in its Home category following the Q4'14 launch of Air Wick Life Scents innovation, Reckitt said.

"Whilst early days Project Supercharge," says Reckitt, "has been fully embraced by the organisation creating a more efficient and effective RB, and will deliver sustainable cost savings."

We move onto AstraZeneca and a 6% slump in revenues to $6,057m for the last quarter (better than expected). Core operating profit slips 8% to $1,805m though reported operating profit is up 11% to $933m.

AstraZeneca claims its pipeline has progressed in its therapy areas with positive top-line results from the Phase III PINNACLE programme for its respiratory medicine PT003, plus data from the Pegasus study for Brilinta/Brilique in cardiovascular.

"We received two submission acceptances," says boss Pascal Soriot, "for new medicines, two FDA Orphan-Drug and two Fast-Track designations. We look forward to presenting data through the year."

Finally, instrumentation company Spectris. The Group delivered like-for-like (LFL) sales growth of 1% for the last quarter. Acquisitions contributed a further 5% growth whilst foreign currency exchange movements had a broadly neutral impact it says.

Reported sales grew 6% in the period. Regionally, LFL sales grew 10% in Europe, whilst there were declines of 3% in North America and 2% in Asia Pacific says Spectris.

"Our broad end-market exposures together with our strong financial position and on-going investment in the business all" said chief exec John O'Higgins, "underpin the Board's view that the company is well positioned for 2015 and beyond."
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