Wednesday, 14th March: The UK’s 4th largest supermarket has today announced an 11% jump in annual profits and as revenues have risen £1bn to £17.3bn, Morrisons entered its third consecutive year of growth. For shareholders who have stuck by the supermarket, a special dividend of 4p per share has approved, reflecting the “good progress and expectations for continued growth”. It takes the full year payout to 10.09p, up 85.8%. Like for like sales were 2.8% higher. Supermarkets in the UK have been challenged in recent years through the dominance of discount retailers entering the market as well as higher import costs. Shares fell though as the group’s free cash flow generation almost halved; shares were down 4.86% at the end of the day.
Another major name is set to disappear from the UK “high street” (retail park in this case) as Toys R Us look set to close the doors on its 100 stores in the UK over the next 6 weeks, 25 of which look to be immediate. After falling in to administration at the end of February, no buyer has been found and more than 3,000 people look set to be out of work as traditional retailers struggle to complete against changing shopper habits and internet giants like Amazon.
Prudential secured its place at the top of the London index (+5.07%) after announcing plans to separate M&G Prudential from its international insurance business, creating two separate listed companies; Prudential and M&G Prudential. The demerger will see M&G Prudential as a UK and European asset manager, while Prudential will be an insurer predominantly focused on Asia, the US and Africa.
US indices ended Tuesday negatively as investors absorbed President Trump’s removal of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson from his position while a Reuters story that Trump was seeking for tariffs of up to $60bn a year on China imports added to selling pressure. The trend continued into much of Asia trade as major indices recorded losses. European indices failed to gain much traction in either direction; the FTSE paring back from c.0.5% gains to close -0.09% while French and German indices gave up c.0.8% leads. The negative sentiment has continued in to US trade at the time of writing.