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Edison

June 20, 2019

UK Sparks: Dixons Carphone Issues Another Profits Warning

Dixons Carphone has warned that this year’s profits will be lower than expectations, due to a “significant loss” at its UK mobile phones business. The group now expects to make headline profits of £210m, with “growth thereafter as transformation benefits feed through”. For the 12 months to April 27, Dixons announced a full-year loss of £259m, due to £557m in charges, mostly non-cash impairments relating to the UK mobile market. Underlying pre-tax profits fell by 22% from £382m to £298m, while group revenues slipped by 1% to £10.4bn.

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Edison

June 19, 2019

UK Sparks: Profits Fall 21% At Housebuilder Berkeley

Housebuilder Berkeley Group Holdings has announced a 21% fall in full-year pre-tax profits from £977m to £775m on revenues 4.1% ahead at £2.96bn. House sales increased from 3,678 to 3,698, while the average selling price rose from £725,000 to £748,000. The company says the results so far represent an 18% outperformance against its December 2016 plan to deliver £3bn of pre-tax profits in the five years to April 2021. In line with its previous guidance, it expects pre-tax profits to fall by a further 33% this year.

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Edison

June 18, 2019

UK Sparks: Strong US Growth Boosts Ashstead

Equipment hire company Ashtead Group has announced a 20% increase in full-year pre-tax profits from £862m to £1.06bn, due to higher US demand. Rental revenue rose by 19% to £4.5bn, with Sunbelt, the company’s main US business, enjoying revenue growth of 20%. A-Plant, the group’s UK business, grew rental revenues by 4% to £357m.

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Edison

June 17, 2019

UK Sparks: RBS Nets £700m Profit From Saudi Deal

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group has disclosed that it booked a £700m profit from yesterday’s completion of the merger of Saudi bank Alawwal and Saudi British Bank. RBS held a 40% shareholding in Alawwal in a consortium with Dutch group Stichting Administratiekantoor Beheer Financiële Instellingen and Spain’s Banco Santander, dating back to RBS’s acquisition of ABN AMRO in 2007. RBS says its economic interest was equivalent to a 15.3% shareholding in Alawwal.

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Edison

June 14, 2019

UK Sparks: Reassure Group Confirms Intention To Float

Reassure Group, the closed life insurance consolidator owned by reinsurer Swiss Re, has confirmed that it intends to list on the London Stock Exchange. The company says it will stage an initial public offering in July, with Swiss Re selling enough shares to provide a free float of at least 25%. No new funds are being raised for Reassure in the float, which is expected to make the company eligible for inclusion in the FTSE UK indices. Reassure says the flotation will increase its “flexibility and appetite for growth” and widen its future access to capital, as well as providing a partial exit for Swiss Re.

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Edison

June 12, 2019

UK Sparks: Boohoo Bucks Gloom On High Street

Online fashion retailer Boohoo Group has again bucked the gloom on the High Street, reporting in a trading update that sales increased by 39% to £254m in the three months to May 31. Sales at the company’s PrettyLittleThing brand soared by 42% to £112m, while its Nasty Gal business more than doubled sales to £18.2m. The Boohoo brand itself increased revenues by 27% to £124m and the group’s gross margin remained stable at 55%.

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Edison

June 11, 2019

UK Sparks: Another Profits Warning From Ted Baker

Retailer Ted Baker has issued another profits warning, stating that consumer uncertainty and “elevated levels of promotional activity” have resulted in “extremely difficult” trading conditions. The company now expects full-year underlying pre-tax profits of between £50m-£60m. Reported sales in the 19 weeks to June 8 were up 3.8%, while constant-currency sales were ahead 1.9%. However, like-for-like sales were down by 1.1% on a reported basis and by 2.9% at constant currency rates. Both retail and wholesale gross margins are lower than last year.

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Edison

June 6, 2019

UK Sparks: Aviva To Cut 1,800 Jobs In Restructuring

Aviva is to cut 1,800 jobs over the next three years as part of efforts to save £300m annually by 2022. The restructuring will see the group split its core UK business into general insurance and life insurance. In an investor update, new chief executive Maurice Tulloch has outlined a strategy that he says will enable stronger accountability and greater management focus. “I am determined to crack Aviva’s complexity, an issue which has held back our performance for too long,” Mr Tulloch says.

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Edison

June 5, 2019

UK Sparks: Shake-Up Continues At Aviva

Insurance group Aviva has announced that chief financial officer Tom Stoddard will step down on June 30 after five years in the position. Jason Windsor, chief financial officer of Aviva UK Insurance, will act as interim chief financial officer while a successor is sought. Mr Stoddard will stay with the group until December 31 to support an orderly transition.

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Edison

June 4, 2019

UK Sparks: AO World Widens Losses

Online electrical retailer AO World has announced a widening of full-year losses from £13.5m to £18.9m, despite revenues increasing by 13% from £797m to £903m. Founder and chief executive John Roberts, who returned to the group in February, says the company has “enhanced” its structure with “informality and a renewed mindset” and is now releasing the “immense unrealised value” that it has created.

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Edison

June 3, 2019

UK Sparks: Kier Group Announces Profits Warning

Construction company Kier Group has issued a profits warning, stating in a trading update that it now expects underlying operating profit for 2019 to be about £25m lower than previous forecasts. It says it continues to experience volume pressures within its highways, utilities and housing maintenance businesses.

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Edison

May 30, 2019

UK sparks: FirstGroup Unveils Break-Up Plan

Transport operator FirstGroup plans to break itself up, selling its Greyhound coach business in the US and separating off its First Bus operations as part of a new strategy aimed at reviving the group and driving growth. The plans were announced in a strategy update issued alongside results showing full-year losses narrowing from £327m to £97.9m on revenues up 11.4% at £7.1bn. FirstGroup plans to focus on North America where its First Student and First Transit contracting businesses generate 60% of its operating profits. It says these two US businesses have the “greatest potential to generate sustainable value and growth over time”.

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Edison

May 30, 2019

CMA Launches Competition Inquiry Into Provident Financial Takeover

The Competition and Markets Authority has launched a competition inquiry into the hostile £1.1bn takeover bid for Provident Financial by rival Non-Standard Finance. The regulator says it has begun a “phase one” investigation and will decide by July 23 whether to move to a full “phase two” inquiry, where it would issue formal recommendations. In particular, it says it wants to examine Non-Standard’s proposal to spin off its home credit business Loans at Home as part of the deal.

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Edison

May 30, 2019

UK Sparks: Bovis Homes and Galliford Try Call Off £950m Deal

A potential £950m takeover of major parts of construction company Galliford Try by housebuilder Bovis Homes Group has fallen through. The talks concerned a potential all-shares acquisition by Bovis of Galliford’s Linden Homes and Partnerships & Regeneration divisions, with Galliford remaining an independent UK-listed group focused on construction.

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Edison

May 24, 2019

Old Mutual Suspends CEO; Mothercare’s Loss Widens in 2019

Old Mutual has suspended its CEO Peter Moyo after a “material breakdown in trust and confidence.” In a brief statement to shareholders, the South African insurer said the action followed a series of engagements between Mr Moyo and the board. Chief operating officer Ian Williamson will assume the role of acting CEO with immediate effect.

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Edison

May 23, 2019

Tate & Lyle Profits Slip 16%

ood ingredients group Tate & Lyle has announced a 16% fall in full-year pre-tax profits to £240m on sales 2% higher at £2.76bn. The decrease is due to £58m of exceptional costs from the sale of the company’s oats ingredients business and from restructuring. Adjusted pre-tax profits rose by 4% to £309m.

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Edison

May 22, 2019

Marks & Spencer Profits Fall 9.9%

Marks & Spencer has announced a 9.9% fall in full-year pre-tax profits before adjusting items to £523m on revenues down 3% at £10.4bn. Adjusting items of £439m include £222m for the “acceleration and extension” of the company’s UK store closure programme. Statutory pre-tax profits increased by 27% to £84m, while a final dividend of 7.1p reduces the total dividend by 26% to 13.9p. Separately, the group announced a £571m rights issue at 185p per share to fund its new joint venture with Ocado Group. Chief executive Steve Rowe says: “Whilst there are green shoots, we have not been consistent in our delivery in a number of areas of the business. M&S is changing faster than at any time in my career.” He adds that the company remains “on track” with its transformation programme.

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Edison

May 21, 2019

Tesco Pulls Out Of Mortgage Market

Tesco has withdrawn from mortgage lending amid increasing competition and tough market conditions. The supermarkets group says in a statement that Tesco Bank had ended all new mortgage lending and is looking to sell its existing portfolio of home loans. The business serves 23,000 mortgage customers with total lending balances of £3.7bn. Tesco Bank chief executive Gerry Mallon says “challenging market conditions” have “limited profitable growth opportunities” in the mortgage business in recent years.

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Edison

May 20, 2019

Ryanair Profits Plunge By 29%

Ryanair Holdings, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, has announced a 29% plunge in full-year after-tax profits from €1.45bn to €1.02bn. The profits, achieved on revenues up 6% at €7.56bn before an exceptional €140m hit from start-up costs for Ryanair’s Lauda operations, are the company’s weakest annual profits in four years. Passenger number growth of 7% to 139 million was offset by a 6% decline in fares, while a 19% increase in ancillary revenues was matched by higher fuel and staff costs.

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Edison

May 9, 2019

UK Sparks: Superdry Issues Profits Warning

Fashion retailer Superdry has warned that full-year underlying pre-tax profits are likely to be below market expectations. The warning comes in a trading statement for the fourth quarter of the group’s financial year. Global brand revenue in the quarter was down by 5.2% to £406m, with group revenues 4.5% lower at £188m.

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Edison

May 8, 2019

UK Sparks: E-cigarette sales help boost imperial brands

Imperial Brands, owner of cigarette brands including JPS, Gauloises and Winston, has announced an increase in interim pre-tax profits from £600m to £1.02bn. Operating profits advanced by 38% to £1.15bn, while adjusted pre-tax profits rose from £1.4bn to £1.42bn. Adjusted revenues edged up 2.5% to £3.66bn, helped by price rises and a better performance from the group’s e-cigarette business. However, tobacco volumes fell by 6.9% over the period.

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Edison

May 7, 2019

UK Sparks: Domino’s Issues Warning on International Business

Domino’s Pizza Group has warned in a trading statement that it no longer expects its international business to break even this year. First-quarter sales rose 4.3% to £324m, with UK and Ireland sales increasing by 4.8% to £299m but international sales down 2% at £25.1m. Like-for-like UK sales growth slowed to 3.1% – half the level in the same period of last year.

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Edison

May 3, 2019

UK Sparks: HSBC profits advance 31%

Banking group HSBC Holdings has reported a 31% increase in first-quarter pre-tax profits from $4.8bn to $6.2bn, helped by a good performance in Asia and reduced costs. Revenues in Asia increased by 7%, while there was a 12% decrease in group operating expenses. The bank’s net interest margin slipped from 1.67% to 1.59%. The company says its US turnaround is ’progressing‘ but remains the group’s ’most challenging strategic priority’.

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Edison

April 30, 2019

UK Sparks: Standard Chartered profits rise 10%

Standard Chartered has announced a rise in first-quarter underlying pre-tax profits from $1.26bn to $1.38bn and has unveiled plans to begin buying back up to $1bn of its shares. Statutory pre-tax profits rose by 5% to $1.24bn after a ‘further and final’ charge of $186m to resolve ‘all material legacy conduct and control issues’. Chief executive Bill Winters, who announced a $700m cost-cutting plan in February, says the quarter demonstrated the bank’s determination to deliver the ‘refreshed strategic priorities at pace’. He says the results support the group’s belief that it will generate full-year returns of at least 10% by 2021.

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Edison

April 29, 2019

UK Sparks: Ferrexpo Reassures Investors on Charity Probe

Iron ore mining group Ferrexpo has issued a statement reassuring investors following the resignation of its auditor, Deloitte on Friday. The resignation came after the company admitted that some donations to the Ukrainian medical and social services charity Blooming Land may have been misappropriated. Ferrexpo says its board, which has initiated an independent review into the donations, is committed to the “highest levels of corporate governance and transparency.” Chairman Simon Lucas said the company is “naturally disappointed” by Deloitte’s decision and the resignation of two independent directors.

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