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Weekly review

By Josh White

Date: Friday 05 Aug 2022

(Sharecast News) - The FTSE ended the week 16.31 points higher at 7,439.74.
Equity view

Pet supplies retailer Pets At Home said on Friday that it had delivered a "continued strong performance" in its first trading quarter, with all channels remaining in growth. Pets At Home said total group revenues were up 7.1% at £404.7m, while like-for-like revenues were up 6% year-on-year, reflecting broad-based growth throughout the 16 weeks ended 21 July.

Advertising giant WPP lifted net sales guidance on Friday, after a rise in half-year profits driven by strong client demand across all services. The company forecast like-for-like net sales to increase 6%-7% for the financial year, up from a previous upgrade of 5.5%-6.5%.

Hargreaves Lansdown reported a fall in assets under management for the full year as the war in Ukraine, inflation and cost-of-living crisis shook investor confidence. The company reported a 9% drop in its assets under administration to £123.8bn in the year to June 30. Pre-tax profits were down by a quarter to £269.2m.

London Stock Exchange announced the launch of a £750m share buyback on Friday as it posted a jump in first-half profit and lifted its dividend. Pre-tax profit rose to £803m from £463m in the first half of 2021. LSE hailed "strong progress" across all divisions during the half, with momentum continuing into the second half.

Clothing retailer Next said on Thursday that sales in the first half had been "dominated" by "a sharp reversal" of the previous year's lockdown trends. Next stated second-quarter full-price sales were up 5% year-on-year, driven by a 0.2% increase in online sales and a 12% jump in retail sales amid "unusually warm and dry weather" in June and July.

Hospital group Mediclinic has agreed to be bought by a consortium led by South Africa's Remgro for around £3.7bn. The consortium includes Remgro and SAS Shipping Agencies Services, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of MSC Mediterranean Shipping Company.

Paper and packaging group Mondi reported a sharp rise in interim profits on the back of higher prices due to reduced timber supplies. The company said pre-tax profits for the six months to June 30 rose to €933m from €566m as revenue surged 37% to €4.5bn reflecting the benefit of the implemented selling price increases.

Engine maker Rolls-Royce reported a drop in first-half underlying operating profit on Thursday but backed its full-year guidance amid expectations of an improvement in the civil aerospace division. Underlying operating profit fell to £125m from £307m in the same period a year ago. This was due to lower underlying gross profit and included £371m in research and development costs with an increase in spend in Defence, Power Systems and New Markets balanced by lower spend in Civil Aerospace.

Engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce said on Wednesday that the Spanish government had approved the sale of its ITP Aero subsidiary to a consortium of investors led by Bain Capital Private Equity. Rolls-Royce stated the government's sign-off on the deal follows the receipt of approval from all other relevant regulatory authorities.

Insurer Hiscox said on Wednesday that it swung to an interim loss despite a strong underwriting performance. In the six months to 30 June, the company swung to a pre-tax loss of $107.4m from a profit of $133.4m in the same period a year earlier.

Hill & Smith reported a jump in first-half profit and revenue on Wednesday as it took pricing actions to recover input cost inflation. In the six months to 30 June, pre-tax profit rose 17% to £40.2m on revenue of £349.9m, up 12% on the same period a year earlier. The interim dividend was lifted 8% to 13p a share.

Commercial property investor CLS Holdings said on Wednesday that it sold two properties in the UK and one in France for a combined total of almost £40.0m. CLS Holdings stated it had disposed of Great West House in Brentford and 62 London Road in Staines and one French property, 96 Rue Nationale in Lille, for a total of £39.8m - an average of 3.7% above their 31 December 2021 valuations.

Software group Sage said on Tuesday that it had "performed strongly" in the first nine months of the year, with momentum continuing to build and full-year revenues seen at the top end of its guidance range. Sage stated total year-to-date organic revenues were up 6% to £1.41bn, with recurring revenues growing 9% so far in 2022 to £1.33bn and other revenues slipping 25% to £82.0m. In the third quarter, recurring revenues grew 10% to £464.0m, with growth accelerating as the year progressed, supported by the firm's continued investment in sales, marketing, and innovation.

Distribution and services group Bunzl has agreed to acquire businesses in the Netherlands, Brazil, Australia, and the UK. Bunzl said on Tuesday that it had acquired Benelux-based logistics and warehouse-related supplies distributor AFL Groep as part of an effort to increase its exposure to the "attractive end market". In 2021, AFL generated €19.0m in revenues.

Precious metals miner Fresnillo posted a decline in interim profits on Tuesday but backed its guidance for the full year. In the six months to 30 June, profit fell 54.3% to $141m, with revenues down 14.2% to $1.26bn and adjusted revenues 12.6% lower at $1.35bn. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation slumped 38.5% to $459.1m.

British sportswear retailer JD Sports Fashion has confirmed the appointment of former B&Q executive Regis Schultz as chief executive after the controversial departure of Peter Cowgill in June. Schultz joins from Dubai-based Al-Futtaim Group, which operates a retail business in the Middle East and Asia. He held posts at B&Q, part of FTSE-100 retailer Kingfisher, and also ran the French supermarket chain Monoprix.

Publishing company Pearson said on Monday that it had delivered a "strong financial performance" in the six months ended 30 June, leading the group to reiterate guidance for the full year. Pearson said underlying sales had grown 6% to £1.78bn during the first half of the year, while adjusted operating profits surged £33.0m to £160.0m, principally driven by an "encouraging" trading performance, FX benefits, and property savings.

Food producer Cranswick said on Monday that revenues had grown 7.6% year-on-year in the 13 weeks ended 25 June. Cranswick said like-for-like revenues were 5.8% higher, with strong growth in its core UK market partly offset by expected lower export revenue.

Infrastructure assets investor HICL Infrastructure said on Monday that it remains on track to deliver its target dividend of 8.25p per share for the year ending 31 March 2023. Despite "heightened market uncertainty" linked to macroeconomic instability and geopolitical events in Europe, HICL said the market for core infrastructure investment remained "resilient", with a positive outlook, underpinned by key defensive attributes of its asset class, including inflation-linked returns and low correlation to wider asset markets.

Environmental infrastructure fund JLEN announced two new acquisitions on Monday - one of a controlled environment aquaculture project in Norway and one of an energy storage project in Scotland. JLEN said it had agreed to make an equity investment in the Hima Seafood facility in Rjukan, Norway, with the group expected to invest up to approximately £40.0m over the next three to four years.

Economic news

UK house prices fell in July for the first time in a year amid rising interest rates and surging inflation, according to a survey released on Friday by Halifax. House prices dipped 0.1% on the month following a 1.4% increase in June.

A hot July and higher price tags saw Brits making less visits to shops last month, according to fresh industry data on Friday, with total UK retail footfall decreasing 14.2% over the pre-Covid comparative period in 2019. The figure from the BRC-Sensormatic IQ footfall monitor was 3.7 percentage points worse than June. and worse than the three-month average decline of 12.3%.

UK new car registrations fell further in July amid ongoing supply issues, with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reporting 9% fewer registrations year-on-year, to 112,162 units. The result marked the fifth consecutive month of declines, although it was the smallest fall recorded so far this year.

The Bank of England announced its biggest rate hike on Thursday since 1995 in the face of surging inflation, as it warned of a long recession. The Bank lifted rates by 50 basis points to 1.75%. This marked the sixth increase in a row and was in line with economists' expectations.

Activity in the UK construction sector contracted in July, falling at its sharpest pace in more than two years, according to a survey released on Thursday. The S&P Global/CIPS construction purchasing managers' index declined to 48.9 from 52.6 in June, coming in below the 50 mark that separates contraction from expansion for the first time since January 2021. The rate of decline was the fastest since May 2020.

The UK services sector grew in July at the slowest pace since February 2021 as inflationary pressures dampened demand, according to a survey released on Wednesday. The S&P Global /CIPS UK services purchasing managers' index fell to 52.6 in July from 54.3 in June, coming in below the preliminary estimate of 53.3. This was the weakest service sector performance since February 2021.

UK house prices rose in July at the slowest monthly rate in a year as rising inflation and interest rates take their toll, according to the latest survey from Nationwide. House prices grew just 0.1% following a 0.2% increase in June, missing expectations of 0.3% growth.

Factory activity in the UK grew at its slowest pace of the past 25 months in July, as output shrank for the first time in more than two years and new work intakes and new export business fell further alongside. S&P Global's manufacturing sector Purchasing Managers' Index for July was revised down from a preliminary print of 52.2 to a reading of 52.1.

International events

German industrial production unexpectedly rose in June, according to official data released on Friday and against supply-chain constraints. Industrial output grew by 0.4% compared with May, the Federal Statistical Office said, against market estimates of a 0.3% decline.

America's shortfall on trade with the rest of the world in goods and services shrank a bit more than expected in June amid a sharp jump in exports. According to the Department of Commerce, in seasonally adjusted terms, the foreign trade deficit fell 6.2% on the month to reach -$79.6bn.

German factory orders fell less than expected in June, according to figures released on Thursday by Destatis. Orders declined by 0.4% following a revised 0.2% dip in May, and versus expectations for a 0.8% drop. On the year, factory orders were down 9% in June following a revised 3.2% fall a month earlier. Analysts had expected a 6% decline.

The Organisation for Petroleum Exporting Countries and its main allies, who together are known as OPEC+, revised their combined output quotas for September higher but by far less than in the previous month. Nevertheless, Brent crude oil futures slipped in response, possibly as some analysts had been anticipating for a long time that the cartel would be unable to continue raising its quotas at the same pace as earlier in the year due to a lack of spare capacity in most member countries.

The US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank may be able to lower inflation in an orderly fashion while achieving a relatively soft landing, a top Fed official said. In remarks prepared for delivery at an event organised by the Money Marketeers of New York, St.Louis Fed chief, James Bullard, said that was thanks to the credibility won by central banks since the 1970s.

Activity in the US services sector accelerated unexpectedly in July, the results of a closely-followed survey revealed. The Institute for Supply Management's services sector Purchasing Managers' Index improved from a reading of 55.3 for June to 56.7 in July.

Services sector activity in the US slumped during the previous month with output falling at its fastest pace since May 2020, revised data for a survey of sector conditions revealed. S&P Global's services sector Purchasing Managers' Index slipped from a reading of 52.7 for June to 47.3 in July (Preliminary 47.0).

Retail sales in the Euro Area dropped 1.2% month-on-month in June, according to Eurostat, the steepest decline year-to-date and significantly worse than expectations of an unchanged print. June's fall in sales, which follows a 0.4% rise in May, comes as rising consumer prices, increased borrowing costs and low confidence combined to weigh on consumer spending throughout the month.

Eurozone business activity contracted in July amid a downturn in the manufacturing sector and as service sector activity slowed, according to a survey released on Wednesday. The S&P Global eurozone PMI composite output index - which measures activity in both the manufacturing and services sectors - fell to 49.9 from 52.0 in June, coming in below the 50.0 mark that separates contraction from expansion and marking the first dip below since February 2021.

The US jobs market tightened up a bit as economic growth slowed, the results of a closely-followed survey revealed. According to the Department of Labor, the number of job openings fell at a month-on-month pace of 5.4% in June to reach 10.698m (consensus: 10.994m).

Factory sector activity in the US held up better than expected last month, the results of a key survey revealed. But respondents' answers betrayed caution when it came to the outlook for new orders, staff availability and the risk of raw materials shortages.

Eurozone manufacturing activity contracted in July as weak demand saw inventories building, a survey revealed on Monday. The S&P Global final manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) fell to 49.8 in July from 52.1 in June and just ahead of a preliminary reading of 49.6.

Reporting by Josh White, Frank Prenesti, Iain Gilbert, Michele Maatouk and Alexander Bueso at Sharecast.com.

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