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Here are three things you need to know in the financial markets this morning from investment writer, Tony Cross.

#1. Next increases full year profit guidance

There are half-year results out from Next [LON:NXT] this morning – in a weighty 77 page document. Sales for the six months to July were up 8% on the 2019 figure, whilst just looking at the last eight weeks – so after non-essential retail restrictions were lifted – the growth was 20%. That’s materially ahead of the previously forecast 6% growth. Full year profit guidance has been upped by £36m to £800m and net debt also continues to slide, although the company is quick to admit that a post-lockdown boom and skewed consumer spending have been kind to the numbers. Squeezes on the cost of living along with labour shortages could moderate demand in the months ahead.

#2. SSP Group anticipates a return to profitability

SSP Group [LON:SSPG] has published a pre-close trading update ahead of tomorrow’s end to the financial year. The operator of F&B outlets in travel locations continues to see a gradual recovery, although notes that this is concentrated in domestic and leisure, with international and business travel still lagging. 60% of venues are now open, up from 30% in H1 and the company anticipates a return to EBITDA profitability for the next financial year, subject to a number of factors including further government support and cost inflation.

#3. Comptoir Group sees a range of pressures looming

AIM-listed restaurant operator Comptoir Group [LON:COM] has issued interims today, covering the six months to 4th July. Revenues are down 7% on the 2020 figure, although since the last restrictions were lifted on July 19th, the Chief Exec notes that the company has been comfortably outperforming forecasts. However a range of pressures now loom, including normalisation of VAT, labour shortages and supply chain issues. They note stakeholders have been supportive, but the casual dining sector now faces a true shake out in the coming months.

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Please note this article does not constitute investment advice. Investors are encouraged to do their own research beforehand or consult a professional advisor.

Tony Cross

Tony Cross

Tony Cross is a market commentator with over 15 years of experience, producing compelling, insightful copy for journalists and investors alike. Focusing on macroeconomics, UK blue chip equities and inter market analysis, Cross's commentary is well regarded for its clarity and ability to cut through the waffle. He has been quoted in publications as diverse as The Financial Times, The Times, The Guardian and The Sun. He has also been a regular guest on both Share Radio and TipTV.

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