News Column

UK MIDDAY BRIEFING: BP Profit Down, But Payout Up Again

April 29, 2014

LONDON (Alliance News) - BP Tuesday said its pretax profit fell 73% in the first quarter, due to lower revenues and after last year's result was buoyed by the sale of its stake in TNK-BP, but it raised its quarterly dividend for the second time in six months and said further share buybacks were possible.

It said that it is still working out how the sanctions against Russian companies and individuals will affect its investment in Rosneft.

BP is returning the proceeds of asset sales to its shareholders, even as profits come under pressure from weaker refining margins and lower production. BP also reported a lower contribution from Russian gas giant Rosneft.

Whitbread has reported double-digit growth in profits and revenue for its recent financial year, driven by a strong performance from its Premier Inn hotels business and its Costa Coffee chain, as it continued to win market share and expand the businesses.

Barclays said the chief executive of its Americas unit, Skip McGee, will step down at the end of this month as the bank prepares for new US rules that require it to set up an intermediate holding company in the country by July 2016. McGee, who decided to step down in light of the unit's new focus on regulation, will be succeeded by Joe Gold, currently Barclays' global head of client capital management.


FTSE 100: up 0.7% at 6,748.18

FTSE 250: up 0.4% at 15,882.36

AIM ALL-SHARE: up 0.2% at 814.43

GBP-USD: up at 1.6827

EUR-USD: down at 1.3824

GOLD: down at USD1,296.06 an ounce

OIL (Brent): up at USD108.87 a barrel


Key UK Corporate News


FTSE 100: St. James's Place reported an increase in funds under management in its first quarter, after taking in GBP1.2 billion in net inflows, a 26% increase on the comparative quarter of 2013. British Land has sold two retail parks in Dumbarton and Cwmbran for GBP78 million. Glencore has acquired 4.2 million more Caracal Energy shares at 550 pence each, taking the resources' giant's stake to 12.35% ahead of its planned takeover of the whole company. US pharmaceutical company Allergan is preparing to approach Shire about a potential takeover bid, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

FTSE 250:Telecity Group reaffirmed its full-year currency-neutral revenue growth target of 10% for 2014, after growth accelerated in the first quarter compared with 2013. NMC Health revenue rose 11% in the first quarter, driven by higher occupancy levels and good trading conditions. UBM reiterated its guidance for 2014 despite seeing revenues decline in the first quarter due to currency movements. Redrow and Foxtons Group both said they are benefiting from the continuing recovery in the UK housing market, with housebuilder Redrow selling more houses from more outlets at higher average prices and Foxtons revenue up 19% as property sales commissions jumped 41%, driven by significant volume growth and increasing property prices. UK Commercial Property Trust said its net asset value increased by 2.2% over the first-quarter, while its manager's latest forecast for total returns in 2014 stands at 15.5%, driven by an acceleration of capital value growth supplemented by a slightly lower level of income return.Bodycote said revenue rose at constant currency rates in the first quarter of 2014, although the company joined the long list of those reporting a hit when currency fluctuations are taken into account. It said revenue was GBP153 million for the three months to end-March, a 2.8% increase at constant currencies but down 2.2% at actual exchange rates. Vedanta Resources said net profit at subsidiary Sesa Sterlite fell in its full year, as higher costs outweighed improved revenues and results in its fourth quarter.Jardine Lloyd Thompson said it had seen further reductions in insurance and reinsurance pricing and a further hit from the strength of sterling so far in 2014, although it was winning market share by focusing on specialist areas and expanding into new geographies. Organic revenue growth in its risk and insurance bussinesed had been "satisfactory" so far this year, it said, without giving any detailed figures, while the employee benefits business had made "good" progress. Stagecoach Group also said its overall profitability has remained "satisfactory" for the financial year to date, with like-for-like revenue growth across the business.Carphone Warehouse reported like-for-like revenue growth of 2.3% for the 13 weeks to March 29, driven by a continued strong performance in the UK, and it narrowed its forecast for earnings before interest and taxes excluding exceptional and other one-time items.

AIM All-Share: Christie Group is a big gainer after it said it will swing to a profit in the first half of 2014 and it expects its results for the year as a whole to be substantially ahead of current market forecasts after progress in the merger and acquisition mandates it flagged last month moved quicker than expected.Terrace Hill Group is doing well after it resumed trading on AIM following the publication of a reverse takeover document on Monday. Fastjet is up after it said it would restructure two of its loss-making Fly540 businesses so it can focus on east and southern Africa. Iofina is up after it issued a USD5 million unsecured bond to Panacea Ltd, saying it will use the money to strengthen its cash position ahead of an expansion of its production base. North River Resources is down sharply after it submitted an application for a mining licence for the Namib lead zinc silver mine, but said work on the feasibility study for the project, which was on track at the end of March, has been delayed due to the slow completion of metallurgy testing. Atlantic Coal is also down after production rates and coal sales volumes fell in its first quarter due to the harsh weather in North America during the period.


Top Economics And General


The UK economy grew at a faster pace in the first quarter, but the rate was slower than expectations, data revealed. Gross domestic product advanced 0.8% from the fourth quarter, when it grew 0.7%, preliminary data from the Office for National Statistics showed. However, the sequential growth was below the 0.9% forecast by economists. GDP was 3.1% higher in the first quarter of 2014 compared with the same quarter a year ago.


Eurozone economic sentiment weakened unexpectedly in April from a 32-month high, survey results from European Commission revealed. Economic confidence fell to 102 in April from 102.5 in March. Confidence was forecast to rise to 102.9 in April. The slight decrease in sentiment was mainly due to a worsening of confidence in services and construction. Industry confidence fell slightly by -0.3 to -3.6, reflecting a marked decrease of managers' production expectations which was mitigated by a brighter appraisal of the level of overall order books and a broadly stable assessment of stocks of finished products.


The EU said it had imposed travel bans and asset freezes on nine Russian officials and six leaders of the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine. Prominent Russians on the EU list are Dmitry Kozak, a deputy prime minister who is in charge of integrating Ukraine'sCrimea region; Valery Gerasimov, the head of the Russian armed forces General Staff; and Igor Sergun, the head of the secretive military intelligence service. Also on the list are Oleg Belaventsev, President Vladimir Putin's personal envoy to Crimea and Oleg Savelyev, the newly appointed head of the Russian government's Crimea ministry.


South Korean President Park Geun Hye has apologized for the government's handling of the sinking of a ferry that killed nearly 300 people. "I am sorry to the people and heavy hearted that many precious lives were lost," she was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.


Afternoon Watchlist (all times British Summer Time)

15:00 US Consumer Confidence


Wednesday's Key UK Corporate Events

Glaxosmithkline Q1 Results

Globo Full Year Results

Ladbrokes Interim Management Statement

Home Retail Group Full Year Results

Standard Life Trading Statement

International Personal Finance. Interim Management Statement

Kazakhmys Interim Management Statement

SVG Capital Interim Management Statement

DS Smith Pre-close Statement

Ultra Electronics Interim Management Statement

Avon Rubber Full Year Results

Superglass Holdings Full Year Results

CSR Q1 Results

Next Interim Management Statement

Tullow Oil Interim Management Statement

Greggs Interim Management Statement

Panther Securities Full Year Results

Thorntons Q3 Trading Statement

Playtech Interim Management Statement

British American Tobacco Interim Management Statement

Greene King Trading statement

Ark Therapeutics Group Full Year Results

Antofagasta Q1 Production Report

Asia Resource Minerals Interim Management Statement

Proxama Full Year Results

Talvivaara Full Year Results

Xeros Technology Group Half Year Results

Redefine International Half Year Results

Development Securities Full Year Results


Wednesday's Key Economic Events (all times British Summer Time)

00:05 UK Gfk Consumer Confidence

00:15 Japan Nomura/ JMMA Manufacturing Purchasing Manager Index

00:50 Japan Industrial Production

04:00 Japan BoJ Interest Rate Decision

04:00 Japan BoJ Monetary Policy Statement

07:00 Japan BoJ outlook report

07:00 Germany Retail Sales

07:45 France Consumer Spending

07:45 France Producer Prices

08:55 Germany Unemployment Rate

09:00 Italy Unemployment

10:00 Italy Consumer Price Index

10:00 EU Consumer Price Index

11:00 Italy Producer Price Index

12:00 US MBA Mortgage Applications

13:15 US ADP Employment Change

13:30 US Gross Domestic Product

14:45 US Chicago Purchasing Managers' Index

15:30 US EIA Crude Oil Stocks change

16:30 UK MPC Member Dale Speech

19:00 US Fed Interest Rate Decision

19:00 US Fed's Monetary Policy Statement


By Steve McGrath;; @stevemcgrath1

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Source: Alliance News

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