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What’s more frustrating than getting three-quarters of the way through a DIY job, only to find you’re missing a key component? Judging by one analyst’s forecast, it is not being able to find a third-quarter profit number for DIY retailer Kingfisher, making it hard to tell if it will miss or nail its 2016 targets.
This morning, though, the owner of B&Q and Screwfix said underlying pre-tax profit for the full year was £787m, before turnround costs or exceptionals – an increase of 15 per cent and slightly ahead of the DIY consensus estimates. Statutory pre-tax profit rose 48 per cent to £759m.
Despite a huge overhaul of the supply chain, adjusted sales were up 8.7 per cent to £11.2bn including currency effects, or 2.3 per cent on a like-for-like constant currency basis. Last week, Kingfisher shares gained on hopes that it been taking market share from its main UK rival Homebase, after analysts at Jefferies suggested changes made by its rivals new owners have hurt sales.
For Kingfisher, 2016 represented the first year of its five-year restructuring plan under chief executive Véronique Laury, called ONE Kingfisher. This has involved closing unprofitable stores, reducing advertising spending, revamping product ranges and updating technology, with the aim of boosting annual profit by £500m from year five.
Today, Ms Laury said:
I am really pleased that our performance has been achieved alongside delivering the key first year strategic milestones of our ambitious five year transformation plan, based on creating a unified company where customer needs come first.
However, she was cautious on the outlook for Brexit Britain and post-election France.
Fortunately for upmarket estate agent Savills, there are still plenty of people for whom DIY is not only a foreign concept but a foreign acronym. It would appear to make no sense whatsoever in Russian. Or Mandarin. Or Cantonese. In January, the company said it had seen “increased market share in commercial investment transactions, primarily as a result of the post-referendum interest emanating from overseas.” Its UK residential business also performed better than expected, “with the top end of the market showing similar currency-related drivers of investment activity from international buyers.”
This morning, the effects were easy to translate: group revenue up 13 per cent to £1.4bn, including £90m currency uplift, underlying profit up 12 per cent to £135.8m, with £9m currency uplift. It was enough to slightly beat UBS estimates. Pre-tax profit edged up 1 per cent to £99.8m.
Savills said “transaction advisory revenues” had grown 7 per cent thanks to market share gains in Asia Pacific, particularly China, and strong growth in Continental European markets.
Chief executive Jeremy Helsby added:
Overall, Savills delivered another record performance in 2016 despite the geopolitical distractions in some of our markets. We benefited from the scale of our operations across the globe, which have grown substantially over recent years, as well as a highly resilient performance in the UK.
Housebuilder Redrow was also reporting strength in the UK housing market this morning – although it was easy to read between the lines: it was further advertising its appeal as a bidder for Bovis Homes, which is mulling a merger with rival Galliford Try. Redrow felt the need to remind Bovis shareholders its “record order book” should deliver a 22 per cent rise in pre-tax profit this year.
One overseas buyer with a bit more to spend on property is Czech billionaire Zdenek Bakala. He recently sold 63m shares in Ferrexpo – his last 13 per cent of the company – following a huge rise in the iron-ore producer’s share price. Ferrexpo’s shares surged by more than 500 per cent last year as iron ore prices rose sharply because of increased demand from China.
Mr Bakala’s sale was important for three reasons: lifting Ferrexpo’s free float to almost 50 per cent, forcing index tracking funds to buy more shares, and giving him more to spend on DIY if he chose to (no, me neither).
This morning, the company reported a 3 per cent rise in both 2016 sales volumes and revenues, which reached $986m, and a 20 per cent improvement in earnings before nasties to $375m, helped by lower costs.
However, it shares are more likely to be driven by overnight news of a 6 per cent fall in the price of iron ore in China, prompted by a clampdown on housing loans.
And finally, Safestore’s annual general meeting later today looks set to be something of an anticlimax, after the self-storage company withdrew two contentious resolutions on executive pay yesterday morning.
It had included proposals to adopt a new directors’ remuneration policy and long-term incentive plan (LTIP) among the shareholder votes at its annual meeting. But it announced on Tuesday that it no longer planned to seek shareholder approval for the package following consultations with investors.
Safestore’s climbdown follows rising pressure from BlackRock and other large institutional investors to curtail excessive pay for UK directors.
FT Opening Quote, with commentary by Matthew Vincent, is your early Square Mile briefing. You can sign up for the full newsletter here.
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