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Reports UK

UK stock market morning note (February 28, 2014)

February 28, 2014, Friday, 12:49 GMT | 07:49 EST | 17:19 IST | 19:49 SGT
Contributed by SVS Securities

The FTSE 100 is called to open higher this morning following on from the small uplift post the testimony from the US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen. However, gains may be limited given the developing Ukraine situation. Overnight we had domestic economic data from GfK reporting that the headline consumer confidence balance was unchanged at -7 in February. Today's economic diary is confined largely to the US with the publication of preliminary GDP figures for Q4 2013, Chicago PMI data and the revised University of Michigan consumer sentiment index. These will be followed by a speech from the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney. Commodity prices are flat to slightly firmer and on the foreign exchanges, the major currencies are trading in narrow ranges.

Company Announcements

Pearson Preliminary Results see adjusted operating profit before net restructuring charges 6% lower at GBP871m on sales ahead 2% at constant exchange rates at GBP5.17bn. Adjusted EPS after restructuring charges fell 15% to 70.1p and the dividend has been raised 7% to 48p. It added that profits this year will reflect portfolio changes with cyclical and policy-related pressures in its largest markets expected to continue and impacting profits and margins. It still expects GBP50m net restructuring to continue to shape the publishing businesses and GBP50m organic investment in structural growth opportunities in digital, services and emerging markets. At constant exchange rates, it expects to report adjusted EPS of between 62p-67p in 2014.

William Hill Final Results see net revenue up 16% to GBP1.48bn with pre-exceptional PBT 4% lower at GBP279.8m. The dividend is raised 12% to 11.6p a share. Online and its Australian activities accounted for around half of operating profits and international markets contributed 15% of net revenue in 2013 with Retail described as resilient. It added that it was well positioned ahead of the expected introduction of the Point of Consumption tax from December 2014.

Serco Chief Executive Appointment. It has announced that Rupert Soames will be appointed as Chief Executive with effect from 1 June 2014. He is currently Chief Executive of Aggreko and will leave the latter after its AGM on 24 April 2014. Aggreko's current Chief Financial Officer will assume the role of Interim CEO from that date with the company having commenced the process to identify a permanent successor.