Updates from Dixons, Go-Ahead and Ashtead
Filed under: Investing
The FTSE 100 rose again yesterday, climbing almost 36 points to 5,622. The largest riser was Sage Group, climbing +5.52%. The biggest loser was Severn Trent, falling -6.58%.
Overnight, Asian shares slipped after new Fed Reserve stimulus hopes were clipped; the Hang Seng was down -0.9% and the Shanghai Composite fell -1.6% lower.
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We kick off with numbers with Dixons. Full year total sales mainly flatlined - £8.19 billion (2010/11 £8.15 billion) - with like-for-like sales lifting 5% in the last quarter. Southern Europe performance was difficult though the UK and Nordics was much better.
Dixons says it saw strong growth in multi-channel with sales up 30% in the second half. Net debt reduces to £104m from £206.8m. Their £300m revolving credit facility is signed, extending the maturity date to June 2015.
"Against a tough economic backdrop," says chief exec Sebastian James, "we have continued to deliver on a clear plan to transform the business and today we are setting out our three strategic priorities to further improve our market position and build a business that is stronger, more profitable and sustainable."
Next, a trading update from bus and rail operator Go-Ahead Group. The operation continues to perform well, Go-Ahead claims, with all companies seeing revenue growth in the year to date. Southeastern has shown "solid performance" while Southern "continues to perform well".
In terms of the deregulated bus division, boss David Brown says it continues to see decent growth. "We expect full year passenger revenue to increase by around 4% on a like-for-like basis (after adjusting for acquisitions) and passenger journey growth of around 3%."
Brown is confident Go-Ahead will deliver a full year result "in line with our expectations"; the company continues to see strong cash generation and a "robust" balance sheet.
Lastly, industrial rental player Ashtead Group. Profits have climbed sharply thanks to an increasing trend by clients to hire rather than buy. Pretax profit numbers come in at £130.6m for the year to April 30 - a big leap from just £31m the previous year. Quarterly revenues increased year-over-year to £287.8m compared to £242.8m.
There's a proposed final dividend of 2.5p making 3.5p for the year (2011: 3.0p). "The momentum we have established, and the flexibility provided by our strong balance sheet, allows us to anticipate further growth with or without end market recovery," said the company in a statement.
"As a result, it is likely that our profits in the coming year will be ahead of our previous expectations."