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Reports UK

UK stock market morning note (March 18, 2014)

March 18, 2014, Tuesday, 08:39 GMT | 05:39 EST | 14:09 IST | 16:39 SGT
Contributed by SVS Securities

The FTSE 100 is called to open flat to slightly higher this morning following the performances overnight on Wall Street and in Asia although sentiment is likely to remain cautious given the ongoing Ukraine situation. Today's economic diary sees the release of US building permits data and consumer prices. These will be followed early evening with a keynote speech from the Bank of England Governor, Mark Carney where he is expected to set out reforms as to how the central bank is run. Commodity prices are mixed and on the foreign exchanges, the major currencies are trading within narrow ranges.


Company Announcements

ASOS

Trading Update reports that in the two months ending February 2014, total retail sales rose 26% with UK up 21% and International ahead 29%. The latter accounted for 65% of total sales with the retail gross margin down around 30bps on the prior year. For the 6 months ending February, retail sales grew 34% yoy with the retail gross margin up about 60bps on the previous period. The number of active customers rose 36% yoy to 8.2m. It noted that it had accelerated its investment in warehousing and in IT with capex now at least GBP68m (previous guidance GBP55m) increasing its sales capacity to cGBP2.5bn pa, over GBP1bn higher than its previous guidance. This investment and Chinese start-up will cut its EBIT margin in the current financial year to c6.5% with the costs H1 weighted resulting in a likely H1:H2 PBT split of 30%:70%.

Sainsbury

Trading Statement reports that total sales in Q4 were 1.5% lower (down 1% ex fuel) with lfl sales declining 3.8% (down 3.1% ex fuel) citing tough comparatives. It noted that general merchandise and clothing continues to do well and growth in convenience remains strong at over 15% with its grocery online business expanding at 6% yoy. It added that its expects the outlook for customers to continue to be challenging for the coming year but remains confident that it will outperform its peers.

Berkeley

IMS reports that sales of new build homes have been strong with cash due on forward sales now in excess of GBP1.9bn, reflecting demand in London and the south for new homes. It added that it was well placed to achieve its dividend milestones reiterating its previous guidance that full year earnings are likely to be towards the top of the range of analysts' current expectations.

IG Group

IMS reports that revenue in Q3 was up 9% on the prior year at GBP96.7m adding that it remains on track to deliver revenue ahead of last year and in line with full year 2014 expectations.

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