Updates from Ladbrokes, National Express and Debenhams
Filed under: Investing
The FTSE 100 picked up sharply yesterday, up +1.41% to 5,523 points. CRH was the biggest riser, up +4.24% while ICAP took the Board's largest knock, and a -3.95% fall.
Asian stocks mostly traded quietly overnight with Hong Kong's Hang Seng rising +0.3%. However Japan's Nikkei pushed +1.5% higher.
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First, good news for Debenhams. Group like-for-like sales climbed +3% in the 16 weeks to 23 June 2012, and +1.9% for the 42 weeks to 23 June. Much of the uplift was attributed to Easter, Mother's Day, the Jubilee and month-ends the company says.
The improvement in sales was also supported by investment in marketing around its premium Life Made Fabulous theme. Online sales climbed +34.9% in the last 16 weeks alsoand have increased +40.2% year-to-date.
"Taking the sales performance, revised gross margin guidance and higher marketing spend into account, we remain comfortable with the market's current expectations for reported profit before tax for the year as a whole," the company said in a statement.
Next, Ladbrokes - and disappointing digital profits. In an H1 update it says the phasing of its investment programme, increased marketing expenditure and planned operational losses associated with new international licences, plus the withdrawal from certain international markets, would result in a slip in Digital profits year over year.
But this dip, it says, has been exacerbated by poor sportsbook margin in Q2 "and by delays in the delivery of technology projects leading to lower than expected revenue in Q2." As a result it now expect Digital profits in H1 "to be down further than anticipated at around half that delivered in H1 2011."
Despite this Ladbrokes expects to meet market expectations for H1 and "remains confident that ongoing development of the Digital business will enable us to grow Digital profits in 2013 and beyond."
Finally, National Express. In a pre-close statement the transport business says it continues to see revenue gains in all of its businesses - other than UK Coach. "Overall trading in the period has been in line with the Board's expectations," it says.
In terms of UK Coach, National Express says initiatives to offset last year's removal of the Government's senior citizen concession scheme have delivered underlying core network revenue growth of +2%. Concessionary income, it adds, remains approximately 40% lower year-on-year.