Associated British Foods
There’s a half year update from Associated British Foods out today which might prove to be a cause of concern for investors. Although the company was working against tough comparables after asset disposals flattered the same figures last year, earnings per share at 61.3p failed to meet even the lower end of analyst expectations. It was a similar story for overall revenues and it seems looking across the divisions that it was the sugar business where the issues arose, with falling prices being a key driver here.
We have full year results from Johnston Press, the publisher who recently acquired the i newspaper, this morning as well. The sector faces an ongoing battle against the dominance of companies like Facebook and Google – something which was reflected in the ongoing declines in advertising revenues – but the numbers aren’t universally negative. Digital revenues rose 3%, contract printing rose 4.2% and debts are falling. The i paper also made a positive contribution of almost £10m – publishing will remain a tough game, but Johnston Press does seem to be finding some positive direction.
There’s been no shortage of negative stories from the non-food retail sector in recent weeks, but a quarterly update from Intu Properties, the operator of shopping centres across the UK and Europe, appears to defy the trend. Compared to the same period last year – and stripping out the periods of heavy snow – footfall was up 1.5%, whilst the quarter was a record for signing new lettings. Interestingly it’s the niche or boutique brands – names like Abercrombie & Fitch, Jo Malone and their ilk – that seem to be driving the success. Perhaps the negativity we’re seeing on the high street is more to do with changing consumer behaviour and a rejection of the big, legacy brands?