Updates from Imperial Tobacco

A lift from the FTSE 100: he rose +0.35% yesterday to 5,888 points. Weir Group was the best performer, up +2.82%, while Aviva was the biggest scoop board, down -3.33%, after the Admiral Group, down -1.54%.

Asian markets slipped today on mediocre Chinese production numbers, the Japanese Nikkei ended down -1.40% and the Hang Seng down -0.70%.

Tobacco net revenues are expected to be higher by about 4% with good performances from Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region, the company claims, despite the rise in prices.

But stick equivalent volumes fall to 3% due to the continued weakness of the market in Ukraine (cigarettes) and Poland (fine cut tobacco), as well as the compliance of international trade sanctions against Syria.

“We are making excellent results with our key strategic brands Davidoff, Gauloises Blondes, West and JPS and expect that this should be reflected in future strong volume and revenue growth of these brands, which continue to represent the majority of our volume.”

Further, an update from United Utilities, the UK’s largest public water trader operator, for the six months ended 30 September 2012. Revenue is expected to be higher than last year, reflecting an increase in regulated prices for 2012/13 says United.

“However, as expected, this growth,” the company said, “a little below the regulated price increases, mainly reflecting the impact of the current customers switching to meters and continued to lower business volumes.”

United has recently been removed from the absorption of speculation. Its share price rose to 727p in recent weeks (and about 20% last year). Several bidders are believed to be under, including private equity player Kohlberg Kravis Roberts plus foreign player’s pension fund.

Finally, Ocado. Gross sales rose by 10% to £ 162.6m in the 12 weeks to August 5, 2012 (2011: £ 147.9m). Since the beginning of the gross sales at the end of the third quarter was 11.3% online store says. Ocado said that she was able to maintain margins in the quarter, with less emphasis on short-term vouchering.

Average orders per week for 12 weeks of August 5, 2012 increased 8.6% to 120,494 from 110,945 in the same period in 2011. The average size for 12 weeks to August 5, 2012 was £ 112, 44 (£ 111, 08 in the same period in 2011). As of August 5, 2012 the Group had cash and cash equivalents of £ 67.1m with net debt of £ 83.1m.

“As expected, disposable Jubilee and Olympic events influenced ordering models during the period,” the company said in a statement. “However, long-term planning, and IT solutions, we have taken to prepare for this event will allow us to maintain a high level of customer service.”

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