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Three things you need to know in the financial markets this morning from investment writer, Tony Cross.

Fuller, Smith & Turner

There are half year numbers covering the 26 weeks to September 26th out from pubco Fuller, Smith & Turner [LON:FSTA] this morning. The company has been hit hard by COVID lockdowns and shifting consumer behaviour with the company sliding to a £22m loss for the period, off from an £18m profit a year earlier. Tight management of cash burn and recovery of working capital however meant that net debt only increased by £9m during the period and in August and September, with pubs largely open, the company manged to turn a £2m profit. The business is confident that customers do want to return, although a full bounce back may have to wait until a vaccine is in wide circulation.

Mitchells & Butlers

Keeping with the leisure sector, Mitchells & Butlers [LON:MAB] also has results to 26th September out, but covering the full year. Again it’s a similar story, with the £297m operating profit of a year ago shrinking to just £8m, although the company notes that sales remained ahead of those for the wider market. Management note they have £225m liquidity headroom and cash burn through closure in the region of £35-£40m per month, plus a further £50m per quarter in debt service costs. Depending how much reopening can take place, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for manoeuvre between now and Easter, although the company’s bias towards food sales over drinks should help navigate the latest lockdown.

Stanley Gibbons

The stamp collector’s favourite Stanley Gibbons [LON:SGI] has half year results out today, covering the six months to September 30th. COVID has hit store visits, auctions and the company’s ability to attend exhibitions, although it has managed to drive a modest increase in online sales. The company has been selling assets in a bid to avoid using what limited debt facilities it has left and this has been successful over the last 12 months. There’s a lot of uncertainty here but as a niche operator, it’s difficult to see there not being a future for the business.

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Please note this article does not constitute investment advice. Investors are encouraged to do their own research beforehand or consult a professional advisor.

Tony Cross

Tony Cross

Tony Cross is a market commentator with over 15 years of experience, producing compelling, insightful copy for journalists and investors alike. Focusing on macroeconomics, UK blue chip equities and inter market analysis, Cross's commentary is well regarded for its clarity and ability to cut through the waffle. He has been quoted in publications as diverse as The Financial Times, The Times, The Guardian and The Sun. He has also been a regular guest on both Share Radio and TipTV.

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