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London midday: Footsie seeking direction

Date: Thursday 16 Sep 2010

London midday: Footsie seeking direction

The leading share index is little changed after its flat start amid a mixed reception for today's stream of updates.

Kingfisher is a high-flyer after interim profits from the DIY retailer were at the top end of the range of expectations as the group achieved strong growth in each of its three main operating divisions. The B&Q owner said adjusted pre-tax profit for the 26 weeks ended 31 July 2010 rose 22.9% to £354m from £288m the year before, and was above the median forecast of £342m.

Chief executive Ian Cheshire did sound a cautious note though, saying that the immediate outlook for consumer spending is ‘fragile’. That was of a piece with an unexpected fall in retail sales in August announced by the Office of National Statistics this morning. Sales excluding cars and petrol fell by 0.5% on the month.

The May to July period was good for consumer electricals retailer Kesa, also higher today, as the company cashed in on the World Cup. Revenue grew 4.3% on a like for like basis from a year earlier, above market expectations, with the company doing a roaring trade in TVs, including the 3D variety. French unit Darty ramped up sales in local currency by 7.8%, or 5.1% like for like, while Comet made it 6.3% and 4.3% respectively.

Continuing the retail theme, homewares seller Dunelm saw like for like sales grow 8.0% in the 52 weeks to 3 July 2010. Profit before tax improved to £76.8m from £53.5m the year before, which covered a 53 week period. The company said it had made a good start to the current financial year but the market was disappointed to learn that chief executive Will Adderley will be stepping down after 15 years in the hot seat.

Cash and carry wholesale group Booker revealed a 6.1% increase in second quarter sales, helped by the World Cup and strong demand for fresh fruit and vegetables.

For the 12 weeks to 10 September like-for-like sales rose by 5.9%. Fruit and vegetable sales soared 46%. Meat sales increased 10%.

Things have turned rather sour at Robert Wiseman. The Scottish dairy group delivered an 8.5% rise in overall milk sales but warned that as a result of intense competitive pressures across all sectors of the market, operating profits going forward will be affected.

The group, which supplies about 30% of the milk consumed in Britain every day, said it remains confident that sales volumes for the year will be in line with expectations. Sector peer Dairy Crest fell back in sympathy with Wiseman.

Shares in United Business Media are higher after the specialist publisher and events organiser said it is to acquire Canon Communications, a trade show organiser specialising in the medical devices sector, for £185m.

Fixed income fund manager BlueBay said that as a result of cost controls and a big hike in revenue margins and profitability have grown to “within a whisker” of pre-crisis highs.

Chemring, the military decoy flares and mine detection firm which earlier this week had a fire at one of its facilities in Tennessee, said that it had seen a 23% increase in revenue for the four months since May 1.

Gulfsands Petroleum’s first half sales surged 81% on increased output and oil prices. Pre-tax profit soared to $18.7m for the six months ended 30 June 2010 from $3.9m the year before. Sales for the period jumped to $52.5m.

FTSE 100 - Risers
Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC) 903.50p +4.33%
Cable & Wireless Worldwide (CW.) 77.05p +3.84%
Kingfisher (KGF) 223.90p +2.28%
BP (BP.) 412.35p +2.04%
Royal Dutch Shell 'A' (RDSA) 1,885.00p +1.29%
Pearson (PSON) 1,013.00p +1.20%
Royal Dutch Shell 'B' (RDSB) 1,828.00p +1.13%
TUI Travel (TT.) 223.40p +1.09%
Shire Plc (SHP) 1,530.00p +0.59%
African Barrick Gold (ABG) 601.50p +0.59%

FTSE 100 - Fallers
BT Group (BT.A) 139.70p -3.25%
ICAP (IAP) 440.00p -3.23%
Investec (INVP) 495.70p -2.80%
BAE Systems (BA.) 332.00p -2.58%
Compass Group (CPG) 534.00p -2.02%
Wolseley (WOS) 1,409.00p -1.74%
Rolls-Royce Group (RR.) 574.50p -1.71%
Vodafone Group (VOD) 158.45p -1.61%
Legal & General Group (LGEN) 100.80p -1.56%
Old Mutual (OML) 137.10p -1.51%

FTSE 250 - Risers
United Business Media (UBM) 644.50p +6.71%
BlueBay Asset Management (BBAY) 337.00p +5.15%
Kier Group (KIE) 1,120.00p +4.58%
Hargreaves Lansdown (HL.) 450.10p +2.97%
Centamin Egypt (CEY) 171.80p +2.02%
Domino Printing (DNO) 519.50p +1.86%
Ashmore Group (ASHM) 317.40p +1.76%
Enterprise Inns (ETI) 93.55p +1.57%
Sports Direct International (SPD) 128.60p +1.50%
Bovis Homes Group (BVS) 383.00p +1.32%

FTSE 250 - Fallers
Robert Wiseman (RWD) 360.00p -25.85%
Dairy Crest Group (DCG) 346.60p -7.77%
Telecity Group (TCY) 500.50p -4.58%
Unite Group (UTG) 195.50p -4.07%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 139.50p -3.79%
Aquarius Platinum Ltd. (AQP) 320.50p -3.17%
Premier Foods (PFD) 18.00p -3.07%
Shaftesbury (SHB) 432.30p -2.74%
Daejan Holdings (DJAN) 2,500.00p -2.72%
Hochschild Mining (HOC) 404.20p -2.60%

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