Updates from Unilever, Kingfisher and SABMiller

SABMiller revenues lose their fizz meanwhile Unilever posts higher-than-anticipated first-half sales thanks to strong emerging markets

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savings, tax, stockmarket, pensions, cash, investment FTSE 100, Unilever, Kingfisher and SABMiillerFear that a Bank of England rate rise could arrive sooner rather than later helped depress stock prices on Wednesday, driving the FTSE 100 down more than 101 points - a 1.5% plunge. ARMHoldings and BHPBilliton took the brunt of the anxiety, down 6.6% and 5.7% respectively (to 970p and 1180p). There were thumps too for AngloAmerican and Glencore. The out-and-out winner was easyJet, up 4.9% to 1748p following strong demand to beach destinations, in an update yesterday morning.

The Dow Jones dipped 68 points to 17,851 with Microsoft plunging almost 3.7% after Nokia-related losses and falling PC sales; Xbox sales were more encouraging. Gold prices continued to fall.

A strong day for earnings updates. Let's start with consumer goods heavyweight Unilever with a first-half update. Turnover is up 12% to €27.0bn including a positive currency impact of 10% while underlying sales growth 2.9% with volume up 1.1% and price up 1.7%.

Emerging markets underlying sales growth was 6.0% with volume up 1.9% and prices up 4%; core operating margin was up 14.5% up 50bps. Highlights from the second quarter sees underlying sales growth of 2.9% and volume growth of 1.3%. Prices climbed 1.5%.

"On the cost side," says Unilever, "we continue to exceed the objectives set with project Half, enabling us to strengthen the investment behind our brands and to extend into premium segments and new markets."

Next on the list is B&Q and Screwfix ownerKingfisher. In a Q2 pre-close update for the 10 weeks to 11 July 2015 Kingfisher claims total sales pushed 4.8% (+3.5% like-for-like) higher in constant currencies.

In the UK B&Q like-for-like sales of outdoor and seasonal products were up 1.3%. Showroom sales rose 2.6% with LFL sales of indoor products, excluding showroom, up 5.1%. Kingfisher says Screwfix is on track to have opened 11 new outlets during Q2, taking the total to 412.

"We have delivered a solid Q2 sales performance to date across all our major businesses, albeit against softer comparatives than in Q1." However DIY UK spending remains under pressure generally.

Lastly, brewer and drinks player SABMiller. Revenue and volumes grew robustly in Latin America and Africa in the last quarter but tempered "by a challenging quarter in our key European markets where the trading environment remains difficult and softer volumes in China".

The Carling Black Label brand owner says it continues to make good progress in pushing top line growth; soft drinks volumes were up 4% offset by a 1% decline in lager volumes.

Group revenues in Europe shrank 4% with beverage volumes down 6%, driven by a lager volume decline of 8%. Polish revenues declined 17% with volumes down 15% in a weak beer market "cycling a strong comparative" says the brewer.

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