Three things you need to know in the financial markets this morning from investment writer, Tony Cross.
Full year results from Pearson [LON:PSON] are out this morning, with underlying revenues off by 10%. The COVID lockdown may have bolstered online learning but it has simultaneously shuttered assessment centres. Looking ahead however the company anticipates a stronger 2021, especially once the challenging comparatives of Q1 are overcome. Pent up testing demand stands to provide further support in H2. There’s a lot of detail in the report but with the stock still below pre-COVID levels, it may be worth a closer look.
Direct Line Insurance
There was a fairly stable set of results out from Direct Line [LON:DLG] this morning, with the company showing no real surprises over the year. Profits have been put under a little pressure after an increase in major weather costs, but COVID has reduced claim frequency. Overall, the company notes the pandemic has had a net positive impact on the numbers, whilst the capital position remains robust. As a result of this, another meaningful dividend has been declared along with a £100m share buyback scheme.
Full year numbers from Shoe Zone [LON:SHOE] make for an interesting read. The company is perhaps one retailer that will continue to benefit from always having a physical presence, given the uncertainties in fitting shoes and also the weight vs price, especially at the cheaper end of the market. The pandemic has however taken a toll, with revenues falling by almost a quarter for the year to October 3rd 2020. The previous year’s £6.7m profit has slipped to a £14.6m loss, resulting in a suspension of the dividend, whilst rolling store closures over the last five months mean that a return to profitability seen as is unlikely before October 2022.
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