Fri City brief: New FTSE100 high; Old Mutual FY; new Pearson CFO

Investors cheered the opening of the final trading day of the week with good results from Lloyds Banking Group and British Airways owner International Airlines Group.

The positive statements helped the FTSE100 hold on to its position close to record highs this week.  The index hit a new intra-day high of 6,967.24 before closing at 6,946.66.

Shares in IAG surged 3.66% or 20.5p to 580p to push the airline group to the top of the index.

Lloyds rose 0.5% at 79p after reporting a better-than-expected rise in profit, allowing the partly state-owned firm to pay its first dividend for six years. But Royal Bank of Scotland, which on Thursday reported its seventh consecutive year of losses,  plunged 19.4p at or 5% to 367.2p after a downgrade by Societe Generale.

Broadcaster and programme maker ITV has confirmed it is in takeover talks with Talpa Media, the maker of reality television and dramas including ‘The Voice’ and ‘Utopia’ that has been valued at over £500m.

STV added 1.75p to 381.75p following positive figures yesterday.

Results today:

OLD MUTUAL: Improving economic growth in Britain and the US saw insurance and investment group report a 16% increase in its operating profit for 2014, after a year of significant strategic development. The Anglo-South African group brought its fund management arm Old Mutual Asset Management to market in 2014, though it retained a 78% stake, while its wealth arm acquired money manager Quilter Cheviot. It is recommending a final dividend of 6.25p per share, makng a total of 8.7p. Analysts at Shore Capital reiterated their ‘hold’ rating on the shares.

PEARSON: Coram Williams joins as chief financial officer from Penguin Random House, replacing Robin Freestone on 1 August. He will also join the Pearson board. PBT down 20% from £382m to £305m after restructuring costs. Company proposes 6% hike in dividend to 51p, its 23rd straight increase above the rate of inflation.

RIGHTMOVE: Underlying operating profit for 2014 was up 20% to £124.6m (2013: £104.0m) driven by strong organic revenue growth of 19% to £167.0m (2013: £139.9m) and continued focus on cost control. Proposes to pay a final dividend of 22p (2013: 17p) making a total dividend for the year of 35p (2013: 28p), an increase of 25%. The final dividend, subject to shareholder approval, will be paid on 5 June.


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