Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Pets at Home, Taylor Wimpey, Rightmove, J Sainsbury, Tesco, IAG and US jobs data

There was some good cheer from a few companies, which have operations in the Sussex region. Pets at Home was a climber after posting a better than expected increase in sales for the first quarter. The housebuilder, Taylor Wimpey, was also favoured on news that it will boost its 2015 special dividend to a £250m payout. Rightmove followed its lead by raising its interim dividend by 2p to 13p.

Following on from Tesco’s woes J Sainsbury found itself on the wrong side of an analyst’s report, unfortunately in this instance from its own house broker. A downgrade by a house broker usually has more weight with investors, as they generally tend to be more positive about their clients’ prospects. In Sainsbury’s case Morgan Stanley’s retail experts were unsettled by the recent changes at rival Tesco and believe Sainsbury’s control over its destiny has weakened.

British Airways owner IAG has moved into profit for the first half of the year after an improved performance from its Spanish airline, Iberia. Group passenger numbers increased to 35 million from 29 million in the first half of 2013. Iberia’s restructuring continues to have a positive impact on the group and 16 new aeroplanes have been ordered for the Spanish airline.

More broadly world markets were on the back foot during most of last week as concerns about the stability of Portugal’s banking system weighed as did worries about Russia, Gaza and the Argentine debt default. Elsewhere the US added 209,000 jobs in July, adding to optimism that the country’s economy is roaring once more. The biggest job gains were in professional business services and manufacturing jobs. Some economists had been expecting even better data but nonetheless this was a decent enough number and certainly welcomed in a week of worrying geopolitical news.

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