Centrica | Shell | Barclays | Frasers | BT | Weir
Listed wealth and other investment managers were in investors’ sights as weak half-year results from St James’s Place saw its shares fall 189.5p to a nine-month low of 933.5p.
This soured sentiment towards the sector. Quilter, which was spun out of Old Mutual, the insurer, in June 2018, declined 4.25p to 78.25p while Rathbones, which also saw inflows slow in the first half, extended losses by another 46p to 1802p.
Half-year results from Drax Group failed to power up the FTSE 250 company’s shares, which slipped 15.5p to 604.5p as its adjusted operating profits of £453 million fell slightly short of some City analysts’ expectations.
The FTSE 250 advanced 86.83 points, or 0.5% while the FTSE 100 closed up 15.87 points at 7,692.76, pushed higher by Centrica, which closed 9.5p or 7.5% at 133.25p.
Wall Street stocks ended in negative territory, ending the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s longest winning streak since 1987.
The index had recorded gains for 13 consecutive sessions, but the run ended with a 0.67% drop.
The S&P 500 fell 0.64%, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index wasl 0.55% lower.
Scottish Gas owner Centrica said adjusted operating profit for the first six months rose to £2.08 billion, up from £1.34 billion a year earlier. Alongside other energy groups it forecast lower underlying profits in the second half of the year.
The profit surge in the first six months is largely thanks to changes to the regulator Ofgem’s energy price cap that allows the supplier to recoup some of the costs of supplying its 10 million customers during the energy crisis.
Centrica may anger consumer group further by increasing returns to shareholders.
The company will pay 1.33p a share in interim dividends compared to 1p for the same period last year, while also extending its share buyback programme by £450m.
Shell has revealed a big fall in second quarter profits as energy prices plunged from the peak caused by the Russia-Ukraine war.
The oil and gas giant reported net profits of just over $5bn (£3.9bn) for the three months to the end of June, a drop of more than 50% on the $11.5bn achieved in the same period last year and fell short of analysts’ estimates.
It was also well down on the $9.65bn sum the company earned during the first three months.
The company said it was, nevertheless, rewarding shareholders with a further share buyback and a 15% hike to its interim dividend.
Retail chain Frasers doubled pre-tax profits to £660.7 million on record group revenue of £5.56 billion.
Michael Murray, chief executive, said: “In my first full year as Chief Executive, we have delivered a strong performance across the group.
“We were bold in setting our full year guidance twelve months ago, before the full impact of the cost-of-living crisis was clear, but our business has remained resilient, and we have met these expectations.
“We enter the new financial year in a strong position and are determined to unlock further growth.”
Barclays has posted a 22% rise in half-year profit as its consumer and credit card business continued to offset plunging revenues in its investment bank as corporate dealmaking stalls.
The bank reported pretax profit of £4.6 billion for the six months to the end of June, against £3.7bn a year ago. This was in line with the average analyst forecast of £4.5bn.
It followed Lloyds in posting surging profits on the back of higher interest rates and lifting its provisions for bad loans.
Barclays net interest margin – a key metric charting the difference between loan and savings rates – soared to 3.2% from 2.67%.
BT has reported a hike in revenue following the roll out of the Openreach full fibre broadband.
The mobile network operator’s revenue grew to nearly £5.2m in the first quarter this year, up 4% from the same period in 2022.
This was mainly driven by revenue from its Openreach division – 8% higher – which maintains and runs BT’s broadband network.
The firm said Openreach is now 44% through its full fibre build while demand increased by 34% in the first quarter year-on-year with over 383,000 added customers, taking the total number of ‘fibre to the premises’ connections to 3.5m.
Weir Group said John Heasley, chief financial officer (CFO), is leaving to join Anglo American as finance director.
He is expected to take up his new role by the end of the year, and the Weir board has begun a process to appoint his successor.
Mr Heasley joined Weir in 2008, holding a number of financial and general management roles and is credited with playing a significant role in the group’s portfolio transformation into a global mining technology company and the subsequent execution of its refreshed strategy.
CEO Jon Stanton said: “I would like to thank John for his significant contribution to the Group. Under his leadership we have strengthened our financial position and further enhanced our functional finance capability. He leaves an excellent team and a strong balance sheet. We all wish him well for the future.”
ITV posted a sharp drop earnings as it tackles a downturn in the advertising market.
The Love Island broadcaster said group adjusted EBITA plummeted by 52% to £152m in the six months ending 30 June from £318m in the first half of 2022.
ITV said this reflected “the challenging advertising market and the planned investment in ITVX”, its video on-demand service.
Overall advertising revenue dropped 11%, as expected, but within this, digital advertising revenue rose 24% to £179m.
ITV Studios revenue grew 8% to hit £1bn in this half of the year for the first time due to “strong and growing global demand for ITV’s content”, according to CEO Carolyn McCall.
“The continued momentum behind ITV’s strategic transformation delivered strong growth in Studios and Digital revenues in the first half of the year, largely offsetting the expected weakness in the UK advertising market,” she said.
The board declared an interim dividend of 1.7p (30 June 2022: 1.7p) and said it remains committed to paying a total dividend of at least 5p for the full year, which is expected to grow over time.