Five stories in particular stand out from today’s corporate news.
First, Centrica, owner of British Gas, reported a 17 per cent drop in full-year profits and lost more than 1m customers. This is on top of the 600,000 it lost the year before. The figures were better than expected, though, and the shares rose more than 3 per cent. Today’s presentations will be interesting because they will be our first chance to see what the new chief executive, Sam Laidlaw, has in mind for the group.
Second, BAE Systems, which produced good results today, says it now wants to conquer the world. Having proved it can build a big business in the US with some well-executed acquisitions, it now wants to be more than a leading transatlantic defence company. It wants to be the leading global defence company (really, check out p4 of the slide presentation).
Third, Doug Flynn seems to be finding the going tough at Rentokil Initial. Pre-tax profits fell 8.4 per cent as the group restructured its UK pest control and washrooms business and said it continued to face difficult markets for its washrooms business in Europe. Investors have taken fright: the shares are down nearly 8 per cent.
And fifth, guess what: Kingfisher managed to report its first quarter of growth at B&Q in more than two years.
There is plenty of other good stuff around as well.
Rakesh Bhasin, the new chief executive of Fidelity-controlled Colt, the old City of London Telecom, is conducting a complete review of the business but says the group won’t take part in industry consolidation. The shares are down 10 per cent.