Premarket London: Redrow Orders Hit Record; M&S Sales Drop Slows

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© Reuters. © Reuters. — Here’s a roundup of regulatory news releases from the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday, 6th November.

  • Housebuilder Redrow (LON:) said business in the first half of its fiscal 2020 year was held back by planning delays and its own cautious approach to buying land in what it called an “unceasing period of economic and political uncertainty.”
  • Net reservations were up 2% on the year in the six months through September, while average selling prices were 389,000 pounds, up 1,000 pounds ($129,000) from a year earlier. On the bright side, it said its order book had risen 8% to a record high of 1.3 billion pounds.
  • Redrow said the further period of uncertainty caused by the recent Brexit extension and the general election to come in December meant that its business would be more heavily skewed than usual to the second half.
  • The bleeding continues at Marks & Spencer Group (LON:). Like-for-like Clothing and home sales fell 5.7% in its fiscal second quarter, worse than the 5.2% drop three months earlier.
  • Like-for-like food sales picked up, growing 1.5% after a 0.8% increase in the first quarter, in what CEO Steve Rowe called the “first fruits” of its partnership with Ocado (LON:). As a result, overall LFL sales in the U.K. fell 1.3%, slightly less than the 1.7% drop through June.
  • Group operating profit fell 15% in the first half, while adjusted earnings per share fell 24.5% to 7.1 pence.
  • M&S still said it expects a recent change in management to improve the performance of its home and clothing division, and said full-year sales will fall only 2% instead of the 3% previously estimated. It kept its guidance for food sales unchanged. It also cut its guidance for capital expenditure by 50 million pounds to a range of 300-350 million.
  • Cybersecurity firm Sophos (LON:) said billings grew 8% in the six months through September, with an 11% rise in currency-adjusted subscription revenue offsetting a 5% drop in hardware sales. The group renewal rate rose to 121% from 118% a year earlier.
    • Defense technology group Ultra Electronics (LON:) said it had had “good order book development” since its half-year results, adding that trading remains in line with expectations.
    • “Our major markets are growing and our strong technology base is positioning us well on existing and potential future programs,” the company said in a brief update.
    • Ultra will hold an investor day on Jan. 23.
  • The company, which has agreed to be bought by private equity group Thoma Bravo, said it swung to a pretax loss of $1.5 million due to exceptional legal and restructuring costs and a one-off gain in the previous year’s accounts.
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