Here are three things you need to know in the financial markets this morning from investment writer, Tony Cross.
#1. Marks and Spencer pre-tax profits up close on 18%
Marks and Spencer [LON:MKS] has published its half year report today, covering the 26 weeks to 2nd October. The headline assessment looks upbeat but as management note it’s somewhat challenging to unpack post-COVID lockdown rebounds alongside supply chain and Brexit headwinds, but revenues are fractionally up from pre-pandemic levels, whilst pre-tax profits have added close on 18%. Trading in the first few weeks of H2 remains upbeat although the company notes mounting cost pressures. The prospect of rapid expansion of Ocado’s capacity does however appear to add further cause for optimism.
#2. JD Wetherspoon sales down around 9% on the same period pre-pandemic
There’s a trading update out from JD Wetherspoon [LON:JDW] this morning for the 15 weeks to 1st November, noting sales down around 9% on the same period pre-pandemic. The company appears to be finding itself at a disadvantage from its older client demographic going out less, reflected in better sales at its pubs with music. The company has also been confounded by better sales in many city centres than it had expected, whilst suburban venues – and central London – have underperformed. It seems there’s still a way to go before a new normal can be established for the pubco, but in the short term there’s optimism that warmer weather in the spring plus the roll out of booster vaccines will lend support.
#3. ITV ups profit to cash conversion forecast
ITV [LON:ITV] published its Q3 trading update as well today, covering the nine months to 30th September. The chief exec heralds an outstanding year to date, with total external revenues up 28% on last year and 8% on 2019’s figure. Total Advertising Revenue for the full year is expected to be the highest ever recorded, whilst profit to cash conversion is now forecast to be 60%, up from the 30% guidance previously issued.