Updates from Bunzl, Berendsen and Balfour Beatty
Overnight, the Nikkei continued to climb, up +2.39% to 10,160 while the Hang Seng also jumped, up +0.64%. The Greek credit rating has also been hiked.
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It's several B's this morning. We start with Bunzl. Overall trading, it claims, is consistent with expectations at the time of the Interim Management Statement in October. The company - which saw its target price snipped recently by Citigroup - says revenue growth for the year is expected to be approximately 6%.
This is supported by underlying revenue growth and the impact from acquisitions net of the disposal of the UK vending business in August 2011, with Group operating margin in line with the prior year, Bunzl claims.
"Underlying revenue growth for the year is expected to be about 2.5% against the background of a challenging comparative in the second half due to a particularly strong performance in North America last year."
Next, textile service player Berendsen. Revenue from its core businesses for the 11 months up to 30 November remain ahead of the comparable period last year by 3% on an underlying basis, Berendsen claims.
Underlying revenue, it claims, is up 2% but down slightly on a reported basis due to foreign currency exchange movements. But there's better operating margin with good growth in adjusted profit before tax. Berendsen recently bought Groene Team B.V., the washroom and mat activities of ISS in the Netherlands.
"Our free cash flow has been strong and we expect to deliver in excess of £100 million in 2012, well above our target of 100% conversion of our adjusted profit after tax, resulting in a reduction in net debt, notwithstanding the acquisitions we have made."
Finally, Balfour Beatty claims has been awarded two eight-year contracts with National Grid to upgrade the UK's gas distribution network. The contracts, valued at £1.2 billion, involve the design and installation of modern polyethylene gas distribution mains to replace aging metal pipes - a programme of work agreed between National Grid and the Health and Safety Executive.
The new Gas Distribution Strategic Partnership contracts, says Balfour, cover the North West and West Midlands and will replace Balfour Beatty's current gas contract in the North West. Balfour Beatty will invest £55 million of working capital.
"These contracts," said the company in a statement this morning, "build on Balfour Beatty's existing electricity alliance contract with National Grid which involves the ongoing upgrade and refurbishment of the high voltage transmission network owned by National Grid across England and Wales."