Three things you need to know in the financial markets this morning from investment writer, Tony Cross.
There’s an operational update out from Hammerson [LON:HMSO] this morning, the retail park and shopping mall operator, which was able to reopen outlets last Monday. A few key facts which are likely to be interesting include the fact that footfall is around 80% of the level seen for the corresponding week a year earlier, so not quite the feeding frenzy that has been suggested by some, although the number is significantly better than was seen following the June 2020 reopenings. Operations in France remain highly constrained owing to ongoing lockdowns and across the company, only 46% of rent due for the first half of the year has been collected so far.
Associated British Foods
Associated British Foods [LON:ABF] has published interim results for the 24 weeks to February 27th this morning. Group revenues are off by 17% whilst pre-tax profits have been halved in the period. The closure of most of the Primark stores for more than half that period has clearly taken a toll, but the company notes record sales at shops in England and Wales over the last week. That has given the board confidence to repay the money it received under the government job retention scheme – something we are keen to applaud – and also declare an interim dividend of 6.2p. The company also notes a record performance for the Grocery, Sugar, Agriculture and Ingredients businesses in the first half, so whilst they expect a softer second half here, assuming momentum at Primark can be maintained then investors may be ready to cheer this note.
There’s a pre-close statement out from construction materials distributor Brickability Group [LON:BRCK], following its year end on March 31st. Despite the operational challenges of COVID, trading has been robust and the company now expects to deliver revenues of £180m with EBITDA of £17m, ahead of previous expectations. The company is broadly confident over the outlook for the year ahead as although economic uncertainty lingers, underlying demand for the UK housing market remains robust.
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