We have a third quarter trading update from pubs group Wetherspoon out this morning. Leaving aside the fact its Chairman turns a fair swathe of the note into another platform for Brexit, the underlying position looked reasonably good. Like for like sales over the 13 week period were up 3.5% and with the comparable figure from 2017 covering the early May bank holiday whereas this year’s numbers didn’t, the figure is likely to be slightly understated. The company is – sensibly – making no calls over the impact the football World Cup will have on sales over the summer, but clearly England managing to get beyond the group stages will give the industry as a whole something to cheer.
Doorstep lenders Provident Financial have published a trading update for the year to date. The company suffered badly last year as a new technology integration meant it was unable to collect payments from many customers, with shares losing 80% of their value as a result. Management have this morning painted an upbeat picture over the company’s recent performance and there’s a commitment to resume dividend payments after last year’s suspension. This might just be sufficient to placate investors.
Half year numbers have been published by cigarette maker Imperial Brands and despite the company’s swing towards next generation e-cigarettes, sales are still falling. Revenues are down 0.1%, whilst the operating profit is off 7.6% from the same period a year ago. The adjusted earnings per share have also come up short of expectations but investors are being sweetened with a 10% hike in the dividend.