Thursday,23 February: Indices in London all took a step back in trade today, as some companies going ex-dividend hamstrung progress in the primary index, despite gains in some blue-chip stocks after full-year results were well received. The FTSE 100 closed -0.42% as a result, as smaller UK indices were also down along with a slump in European indices.
Intu(+5.16%) was the best blue-chip performer as the shopping centre operator announced a lift in its dividend for the first time since 2007. The 2016 dividend will come in at 14 pence per share, up 2.2% from 13.70 pence per share a year earlier. Intu raised its dividend to 34.10 pence in 2007, keeping its payout ratio the unchanged or cutting the dividend each year since. Net rental income growth came in at 3.6%, on a like-for-like basis, driving revenue more than £20.0m higher to £594.3m and underlying earnings 7% higher to £200.0m. Intu said it plans to deliver continued growth in like-for-like net rental income, in the range of either flat or 0.2% growth in 2017, including some units being held for development and the full impact of British Home Stores closures, subject to no material tenant failures. The firm was bullish that traders in its shopping centres can ride out cost pressures emanating from a weaker pound.
Barclays(+2.53%) was the latest in a line of banks to report booming results for 2016. Pretax profit rose from £1.15bn in 2015 to £3.23bn, but below market consensus of £3.97bn. The rise in profit was primarily driven by a fall in litigation and conduct charges to £1.36bn from £4.39bn, including £1bn already earmarked for PPI claims. Common equity tier 1 ratio came in higher than the prior year at 12.4%(11.4%), whilst the dividend languished lower at 3.0p per share, down from 6.5p per share in 2015.