Next To Issue further Special Dividend to Shareholders

Following on from their early statement and previously announced 50p special dividend to shareholders in february, fashion chain NEXT (NXT.L) has announced a further special dividend of 50p to be paid on May 1st.

The company recently announced a decision to buyback shares or issue special dividends depending on the current share price. Saying in a statement earlier in the month that they expect to generate a further £300M in cash this year.  According to their current policy shares are trading above the level at which the company would start to buyback shares so they will continue to return surplus cash to investors in the form of special dividends.

BT buoyed after raising earnings guidance

Telecoms group BT Group Plc (BT.A.L) gained this morning after a statement from the company revealed a profit increase of 8% in the 3rd quarter and raised its full year earnings outlook. The strong performance was due to increased earnings in its fibre broadband business and the success of its new sports channels.

Gavin Patterson, Chief Executive, commenting on the third quarter results, said:

“This is an encouraging set of results, with profit before tax up 8%, earnings per share up 12% and growth in revenue. Our strategic investments are delivering. It was another record quarter for fibre take-up and there are now more than 18 million premises with access to our fibre. That number will grow further as the BDUK programme progresses. Fibre helps SMEs to compete and underpins our TV plans. Our direct BT Sport customer base passed 2.5 million in the quarter and helped to support 6% revenue growth in our Consumer business. We achieved some particularly strong audience figures in December and the exclusive rights to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League that we have won will further strengthen the appeal of our proposition. Outside the UK our businesses in the high-growth regions of the world again delivered double-digit revenue growth.
The momentum on our cost transformation has enabled us to raise our EBITDA outlook for the year. It is important that we keep up the progress we are making across the group whilst continuing to focus on improving the service we provide to our customers.”

Britvic Reports Small Quarterly rise in revenue, maintains full year outlook

Britvic plc (BVIC.L) today reported Q1 results announcing a small rise in revenue of 1.3% at constant exchange rate (2.8% at the current actual exchange rate).

The company said in a statement to investors “Britvic today reports its Q1 trading performance for the 12 weeks to 22 December 2013 and remains on track to deliver full year EBIT in line with previous guidance of £148m to £156m. Despite a continued challenging consumer environment in all of our markets revenue increased by 2.8% (Actual Exchange Rate) and 1.3% (Constant Exchange Rate) to £311.8m”

Commenting, Simon Litherland (Chief Executive) said: ”

“We delivered a robust Q1 performance in each of our core markets despite a challenging consumer
environment. We continued to make good progress implementing our new strategy and remain on-track to deliver our cost reduction initiatives as planned this year. Trading in the first few weeks of Q2 is ahead of last year, and we remain confident that EBIT this year will be within the range of £148m to £156m, which we communicated at our preliminary results in November.”

Anglo American reports Q4 production increases, record copper output

Miner, Anglo American (AAL.L) today reported Q4 figures, announcing rises in the output across most of its production and record copper production figures.

Iron ore output rose 25% at its Kumba Iron Ore unit, Iron ore being the biggest contributor to profits during 2012.  Copper productionincreased by 24% to a record 214,400 tonnes, driven by continued strong performance at Los Bronces, and higher grades at Collahuasi.

Platinum equivalent refined production increased by 25% to 520,300 ounces as a result of an increase in production from Mogalakwena, and the normalisation of production at Rustenburg (Bathopele, Siphumelele and Thembelani), Amandelbult (Dishaba and Tumela) and Union mines that were impacted by the illegal industrial action in 2012

Apple Falls Despite Announcing Record Sales

Tech giant Apple Inc (AAPL) last night released news that it had sold a record 51 million iPhones and 26 million iPads in the run up to Christmas however despite this failed to reach most analysts expectation and the news proved disappointing to investors as shares in the company were subject to a sell off in after hours trading yesterday and again when the US markets opened today.

Quarterly, revenue was another record figure for the company however profits over the period remained flat at $13.1billion and gross margins fell compared to the same period last year.

The company also issued guidance of profits in the region $42 billion and $44 billion for the current quarter, again this is less than analysts expectations.

We are really happy with our record iPhone and iPad sales, the strong performance of our Mac products and the continued growth of iTunes, Software and Services,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We love having the most satisfied, loyal and engaged customers, and are continuing to invest heavily in our future to make their experiences with our products and services even better.”

British Land Rises After Strong Third Quarter

Landlord, British Land (BLND.L) rose this morning after a positive update. The company reported like-for-like occupancy rose 30 points to 97.1% for the quarter. The companies statement highlights include an improved position in both Offices and retail and a strong financial position.

Chris Grigg, Chief Executive said: ”We have had a good third quarter and the business is performing well. Overall, the UK property market had a strong quarter with London strengthening further and domestic and international investment spreading out into the regional markets. We continued to take advantage of the increase in investor demand to sell selected assets. At the same time, we have continued to leverage our deal and property skills to secure value accretive transactions.

From an occupational perspective, we saw increased interest in our office space in London, notably in the City. In retail, the economic recovery is having a positive impact on confidence and we continued to benefit from retailers looking to take space in the best quality locations. We are moving forward with our new development programme, including starting on site at Clarges, and are successfully completing our 2010 development projects. Finally, we were very pleased to establish a new joint venture at Broadgate with GIC and have already started working with them to deliver our exciting vision for the estate.”

RBS Allocates another £3Bln for Credit Crisis losses, warns on further losses

80% taxpayer owned bank, Royal bank of Scotland (RBS.L) released news near the end of trading today detailing its plans to set aside another £3.1Bln to pay for fines, damages and customer compensation relating to the credit crisis and market rigging allegations.

Boss Ross McEwan said “The scale of the bad decisions during that period means that some problems are still just emerging.”

The bank plans to allocate:

  • £1.9bn to pay for fines and damages relating to mis-selling mortgage bonds in the US, as well as other penalties relating to market manipulation
  • £650m of losses for mis-selling payment protection insurance (PPI)
  • £500m of losses for compensating small businesses who were wrongly sold interest rate hedging products

The bank also warned there could be another £4.5Bln losses on bad debts, loans and assets and this could mean a full year loss totaling £8Bln.

Commenting on the news, the Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “It’s an absolutely shocking story that the British taxpayers are still paying for the excesses of this bank in the boom period before it collapsed.”

AT&T Rules out Vodafone Bid, Reserves right to enter bidding

Shares in Vodafone (VOD.L) fell this morning as US telecoms giant ruled out any bid for the company for now. The company had been thought to be interested in a bid for Vodafone after speculating in October that Vodafone may present a great opportunity for entry into the European market.

AT&T was asked to clarify their position after a recent meeting with the European regulators. The statement means AT&T cannot now make a bid for Vodafone within the next 6 months unless they are invited by the company to do so or other parties become interested and start a bidding war.

“AT&T Inc. notes the recent speculation regarding a potential transaction involving Vodafone Group Plc,” the company said.

“At the request of the UK Takeover Panel, AT&T confirms that it does not intend to make an offer for Vodafone.  Accordingly, AT&T is bound by the restrictions under Rule 2.8 of the UK Takeover Code.”

“For the purposes of Rule 2.8 of the Code, AT&T reserves the right to announce or participate in an offer or possible offer for Vodafone and/or to take any other action which would otherwise be restricted under Rule 2.8 of the Code within 6 months after the date of this announcement in the circumstances described in note 2 to Rule 2.8 of the Code.”

Punch Taverns faces opposition to final restructuring proposals

Punch Taverns (PUB.L) the Pub Landlord group today released a statement in response to fresh opposition to its recent restructuring plan released on  the 15th January.

A group of creditors including funds managed by Oaktree Capital Management, Angelo Gordon Europe and Warwick Capital Partners have pledged to oppose Punch Taverns proposals in their current form and say the company should reopen talks.

Punch Taverns maintain agreement is essential to avoid a default soon and the only option to deal with the companies spiraling debt problem. The timetable is for the Restructuring proposals to be voted on at noteholder meetings on 14 February 2014.

“The Company continues to be available to discuss with creditors their views of the Restructuring proposals.” Punch said in their statement.