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Reports UK

UK stock market morning note (February 24, 2014)

February 24, 2014, Monday, 08:15 GMT | 03:15 EST | 12:45 IST | 15:15 SGT
Contributed by SVS Securities

The FTSE 100 is called to open lower this morning following the weakness overnight in Asia on concerns about Chinese banks tightening their financing towards the country's property sector. There is no major economic data due for release today so investors will be focusing on the likes of the HSBC Final Results due out at 8.15am. Commodity prices are mixed and on the foreign exchanges, the pound is up slightly against both the dollar and the euro but all are within narrow trading ranges.

Company Announcements

Associated British Foods Trading Statement reports that adjusted operating profit for H1 is expected to be in line with last year. Much lower profits from Sugar will be offset by an 'excellent' performance from Primark and 'encouraging' results from Grocery and Ingredients. Adjusted earnings for H1 will be 'firmly ahead' of last year. It noted that sterling's ongoing strength against its major trading currencies will have a more significant negative effect on the translation of overseas results into sterling in H2. However, it continues to expect adjusted EPS for the financial year to be similar to 2013. It added that operating cashflow in H1 will be further improved and net debt is expected to be some GBP0.4bn lower than the prior period at GBP0.9bn.  

Bovis Homes Final Results see PBT up 48% and revenue ahead 31% to GBP78.8m and GBP556m respectively. The dividend is raised 50% to 13.5p and ROCE grew 2.7ppts to 10.4%. It noted a 14% increase in the average home sales price to GBP195,100, enhanced forward order book and land bank of 14,638 consented plots at the end of 2013. It added that with the current strong sales position and assuming current market conditions continue, it is confident of delivering strong increases in volume, revenue and profits in 2014 with the aim of achieving a ROCE for the year of at least 14%.

RSA Response to Press Speculation. It has noted weekend press comment and is considering measures to strengthen its Balance Sheet including raising capital via a rights issue. However, it stated that no final decision had been made at this time and its full year results and update on the business review will be announced on 27 February 2014.