Three things you need to know in the financial markets this morning from investment writer, Tony Cross.
Marks and Spencer
Marks and Spencer [LON:MKS] have published Q3 numbers this morning, covering the 13 weeks to December 26th. The company sees trading as having been robust, given the back drop of changing restrictions, although November’s lockdown certainly took a toll on the business. Across the board, group sales fell 8.4%, although a strong performance by the clothing and home online categories along with news of improvements in full-price sales was perhaps the stand-out. Challenging times lie ahead for many retailers and it seems M&S still has challenges to face. As Ross Hindle, retail sector analyst at Third Bridge said in a note, “M&S’s potential acquisition of Jaeger hints at the potential for a more aggressive shift into the multi-brand space. M&S have numerous large stores which could be filled with non-M&S merchandise in order to drive their top-line. The risk here is whether such brands might cannibalise M&S branded products.”
House builder Barratt Developments [LON:BDEV] has issued first half numbers this morning, covering the six months to December 31st. Completions for the period were up on the 2019 figure, although pent-up demand following the first national lockdown appears to have been a key driver here. Forward sales are however also up by over 14% and the company expects more than 15,000 completions this year. Looking further ahead, the medium term ambition remains to get this figure to 20,000. Dividend payments are set to be reinstated following the release of interim results next month.
Newspaper publisher Reach [LON:RCH] has updated the market with Q4 numbers this morning and it’s a sector that has been facing challenges for many years. The company continues to adapt to the digital age, with online revenues up by almost 25%, helping mitigate some of the effects of falling print sales. Total revenue was down just over 10% for the quarter but the numbers have left the company in a position to upgrade full year profits, which are now expected to come in around the £130m-£135m mark.
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