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Reports UK

UK stock market morning note (March 13, 2014)

March 13, 2014, Thursday, 09:13 GMT | 06:13 EST | 14:43 IST | 17:13 SGT
Contributed by SVS Securities

The FTSE 100 is called to open higher this morning although sentiment is likely to remain cautious with Chinese industrial and retail sales data released overnight both coming in weaker than expected. The rest of today's economic diary is confined to the US with the publication of retail sales and the latest weekly jobless claims. Commodity prices are flat to lower and on the foreign exchanges, the pound is up against both the dollar and the euro but within narrow trading ranges.

Company Announcements

Wm Morrison

Preliminary Results see underlying PBT down 13% to GBP785m with non-recurring exceptional costs coming in at GBP903m to leave a LBT of GBP176m. Turnover was 2% lower at GBP17.7bn with lfl sales ex fuel and VAT down 2.8%. The total dividend is raised 10% to 13p a share. It has completed its strategic review and there will be a greater focus on the core supermarket business, acceleration of online and convenience, a planned exit from non-core activities including Kiddicare and Fresh Direct and new space pipeline reassessed with total non-recurring costs of GBP0.9bn. These will result in 'substantial' cash generation with GBP1bn over 3 years from operating improvements, working capital and reduced capex, GBP1bn of property disposals over 3 years and a commitment to a 5% minimum increase in the dividend for 2014/15 and progressive/sustainable dividend thereafter, with a return of surplus capital as appropriate. It added that its expectations of underlying profits for 2014/15 will be in the range of GBP325m-GBP375m, after charging GBP65m of new business development costs and GBP70m of one-off, non-recurring costs.

Home Retail

End of Year Trading Statement reports a positive sales performance in the last few weeks of its financial year at Argos and Homebase. It now expects benchmark PBT to be slightly ahead of the top end of the current range of market expectations of GBP107m-GBP111m.