Three things you need to know in the financial markets this morning from investment writer, Tony Cross
There’s a trading statement out from the high street fashion retailer Next this morning, covering the first half of the year. The headline numbers here relate to full price sales, avoiding the heavily discounted lines and there’s one message that comes across loud and clear – the growth is being seen very much in the online space. Retail sales fell 5.3%, online jumped 15.5% netting out at a total of 4.5% growth. What this says about the future of the high street is perhaps more worrying.
Half year figures from the insurer Direct Line are on the table this morning, too. Gross written premium income is down a meaningful 5% but strip out the sales they make through Nationwide and Sainsbury’s and it’s a different picture. The cold snap at the start of the year has also taken a heavy toll – weather related claims in H1 of 2018 were £75 million, versus just £9 million a year earlier. Add all this to the news that the CEO is to step down next summer and investors may well be bristling at this when the market opens.
The makers of Irn Bru, AG Barr, also have their latest trading update published this morning and investors could have something to cheer here. Sales are up 5% for the first half of the year, which is especially impressive when put against tough comparatives for the same period in 2017. There’s no explicit mention of profit margins in this update, but the business remains cash generative and is pursuing a share repurchase program, which should point towards a solid set of results towards the end of September.