Royal Mail (RMG) has delivered steady progress with these full-year numbers, bolstered again by the strength of its European business.
The GLS unit, which accounts for 25% of overall revenues, again showed growth of 10%, whilst there were marginal gains in the headline revenue and adjusted profit numbers. The group's focus on costs is becoming sharper, whilst its move from net debt to net cash is a positive sign.
Indeed, the generally cash generative nature of the business has fuelled its progressive dividend policy, where a projected yield of 4.1% is a clear attraction for income-seekers.
• The week ahead: Vodafone, Centrica, Royal Mail
• Why there's huge relief at Royal Mail
With the general direction of travel now entrenched, with a letters and cards... more
Even after a few glorious sun-kissed days of al-fresco drinking and dining, there remains a chill in the air for pub giants Mitchells & Butlers (MAB) and Marston's (MARS).
Their shares fell sharply today as the City looked back two months to count the costs of the Beast From the East, which shut some pubs and dealt an unwelcome blow to an industry already struggling on leaner margins.
Mitchells, which has 1,700 pubs and restaurants, believes the snow cost it £12 million and meant like-for-like sales were up 1.6% in the 28 weeks to April 14 rather than the 2.5% estimated without disruption. The heaviest snowfall came on Sundays when chains such as Toby Carvery are usually at their busiest.
The profits impact was estimated at £8 million, partly due to added... more
Contrasting reactions to updates from Micro Focus International (MCRO) and Crest Nicholson (CRST) have highlighted the minefield facing investors in today's uncertain markets.
Only a few weeks ago, Micro Focus appeared to be heading for a quick exit from the FTSE 100 (UKX) Index after a savage profits warning in March triggered by problems with its transformational £6.6 billion deal to buy software assets from Hewlett-Packard Enterprise.
Shares in the Newbury-based group, which has drawn comparisons with Arm Holdings after growing rapidly to become the seventh largest software company in the world, slumped from 2582p in January to 986p by the end of March.
But investors who bought on this dip will be sitting pretty as the company has rebounded spectacularly, with a 27%... more
Whilst these are not results which shoot the lights out, Burberry (BRBY) will be pleased with its progress given the fact that it is in the early stages of its planned transformation.
Full-year pre-tax profit was marginally ahead of expectations, cost savings were above plan and there was a positive contribution from its retail arm. Meanwhile, the increasingly important Asia Pacific region, and mainland China in particular, showed continuing growth in an area in which potential riches abound.
Overall, comparable store sales rose by 3% and the net cash buffer which exceeds £890 million gives the company some strategic room for manoeuvre. The dividend yield of 2.2% is not especially punchy, although the policy is progressive, while the announced share buyback should provide... more
Vodafone (LSE: VOD)
This is a share which has, unfortunately, tended to bring disappointment over the last few years. Similar to any new model of mobile phone, share price moves promise a lot yet tend to deliver anything new. Worse, price movements prove rather rangebound over the last while.
To cut to the chase, there's a major issue at 241p. If the share were to just close a session above such, we'd wax lyrically about the attractions of 313p, an "almost certain" growth target. If bettered, secondary feels less likely at 372p.Bit of a wobble for dividend king Vodafone
Unfortunately, the share price is now exhibiting some worrying features and risks signing up to the school of "If it ain't goin' up, it's goin' down". We've an... more
With the dividend disappointment of last summer now a distant memory, the fortunes of easyJet (EZJ) investors continued to brighten today.
Shares in the low-cost airline have now surged by 50% since last September, with analysts at RBC Capital pointing to a further 10% upside to 1,900p after CEO Johan Lundgren gave a boost to profits guidance with strong interim results.
He's also plotting further expansion by targeting more of the hotels and holidays market, as well as unveiling a series of initiatives to attract more business travellers and improve the loyalty of the easyJet customer base.
Lundgren said today: "All of these initiatives will provide higher profit per seat and higher returns for our shareholders."
That's an important message after... more
Is there further upside for near-£150 million UK/European support services stock Communisis (CMS) in customer communications for major brands?
Or, given it currently appears challenged to rise above my price objective of 70p, with the March prelims showing only 3-4% growth rates, is it time to lock in gains?
The outlook statement was kept rather vague - "looking forward to another positive year" -although management has launched a three-year plan to leverage profit and the latest AGM statement says trading expectations "remain unchanged". So, will patience be a virtue?Stockwatch: Underrated and a 5% yield Mixed views on this aspect of business services
Communisis pitches itself as "a leading provider of personalised customer communication... more
It is game on for Vodafone (VOD), as its ability to react to a challenging environment whilst positioning itself for the future begins to reap rewards.
On most metrics, the company has exceeded expectations, with another reduction in net operating costs and a strong hike in adjusted earnings pushing Vodafone back into the black. Full-year pre-tax profits showed a 39% increase, whilst from an operational perspective broadband gains and strong data demand provided additional tailwinds.
Even at the flagging India business, where revenues were down 19% due largely to intense competition, the announcement of the merger with Idea Cellular is not only timely but likely to be mutually beneficial.
• The week ahead: Vodafone, Centrica, Royal Mail
• Top stocks: Lloyds Bank,... more
There are some big hitters announcing results and trading updates over the next week, among them three of the most generous dividend payers around.
Centrica explains promise of another big dividendStockwatch: A blue chip to buy for huge yield Why Tesco has a fantastic few years ahead of it Why Vodafone and Glaxo are undervalued
Monday 14 May
A grim profits warning late last year raised fears about the safety of Centrica (CNA)'s knockout dividend. But we've been told by management not to worry, and that the current level of dividend will be maintained if it hits certain targets.
Achieve adjusted operating cash flow within the targeted range and net debt remaining within a £2.25-£3.25 billion range, and the dividend will remain... more
Sterling remains undervalued
As expected, the Bank of England (BoE) decided to keep interest rates unchanged at 0.5% this week after reports earlier this month of a slowdown in UK economic growth.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that UK GDP growth fell to a five-year low of just 0.1% in the first quarter of the year, marking the lowest rate of economic expansion since the final quarter of 2012. However, the BoE sees it as a "temporary soft patch" caused by the bad weather, and it expects a rebound in the coming months.
Economists believe the Bank has moved from being more hawkish to "wait and see" stance as it finds itself in the difficult position of having to deal with inflation above its target of 2% and still weak economic growth. Now, an... more