etail sales increased by 1.6% on a like-for-like basis in July after the heatwave boosted demand for clothing, picnic items and electric fans.
The year-on-year increase reported by KPMG and the British Retail Consortium was flattered by inflation at over 9% as many firms continue to experience falling sales volumes.
Paul Martin, KPMG’s head of retail, said: “Despite consumer polls suggesting confidence is at an all-time low, this hasn’t translated to money not being spent at the tills, as consumers are determined to enjoy delayed holidays and an unrestricted summer.”
Warner Music Group (WMG) home to artists including Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Dua Lipa and Kylie Minogue has topped market expectations in releasing its latest financial results.
Total revenue at the group in the third quarter grew 7% or 12% in constant currency while digital revenue was up slightly to 2% in the increasingly competitive music market. Revenue for the quarter came in at $1.43 billion (£1.18 billion) compared to $1.34 billion in the same quarter last year.
Net income at WMG during the period was $125 million versus $61 million in the prior year’s comparative quarter.
The upping of the group’s fortunes rode on the back of the higher revenue and “the favorable impact of exchange rates on the company’s euro-denominated debt and a loss on extinguishment of debt in the prior-year quarter.”
Ralph Lauren posted first-quarter results that strode past analyst expectations as shoppers continued with luxury clothing purchases despite soaring inflation and squeezed household budgets.
The US-based company reported sales of $1.5 billion, a jump of 8% on the previous year and almost $100 million above analyst estimates.
Shares in the business dropped almost 9% after the opening bell, however, after it said sales in China had fallen short because of lockdowns in the region.
The S&P dropped for the fourth consecutive session in the opening minutes of trading in New York after leading chipmaker Micron Technology said sales were set to fall below its expectations.
Micron’s gloomy outlook triggered a sell-off in tech stocks, with Meta shares down 1.8%, Google down 1% and Netflix down 3.5%.
Shares in social media business Snap fell 3.7% amid reports it was planning to lay off employees.
Investors are staying cautious ahead of the release of new inflation data by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics tomorrow.
London hotel sales continue to lag behind their rural counterparts according to hotel group IHG, as the capital’s hospitality sector suffers from a dearth in business travel.
Revenue per room in London remained 10% behind 2019 levels in the first six months of the year, IHG reported, while revenue from the provinces was 1% ahead.
IHG chief finance officer Paul Edgecliffe-Johnson told the Standard: “We’ve seen around the world that the markets that recovered first were outside urban markets [but] London is coming back fast.
“There are fewer business travellers now, and that’s what’s resulting in that discrepancy.”
The company reported revenues of $1.8 billion (£1.5 billion) in the first half 2022, up 52% on the previous year, while profits more than doubled to $361 million.
Revenues from the group’s budget hotel chains such as Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express recovered faster from the pandemic than more premium brands like Crowne Plaza, Edgecliffe-Johnson said.
The company plans to build almost eight times as many Holiday Inn and Express hotels as it does Crowne Plazas in the years ahead, suggesting a pivot towards affordable accommodation as holidaymakers tighten their belts.
Demand for new homes shows no signs of abating with one of Britain’s largest housebuilders Bellway reporting strong sales and profits growth.
The company said revenues were up 13% to more than £3.5 billion for the year to the end of July. They have jumped by more than £1 billion since 2020 and by £400 million since last year.
Several other housebuilders have also reported bumper results recently.
Taylor Wimpey unveiled a 16% rise in half-year profits last week with house sales exceeding City expectations.
Bellway said its home completions rose 10.5% to a record 11,198, with an average selling price of £314,400 against £306,479 last year, despite labour and raw materials supply issues. Chief executive Jason Honeyman said: “Our sizeable forward order book puts the group in an excellent position to deliver another record year of volume output”.
Tyre maker Continental today said it is facing a “hurricane” as setbacks rip through the global car industry.
“The current headwind is rather like a hurricane and will not subside any time soon,” said Katja Dürrfeld, the German firm’s chief financial officer.
“We cannot be entirely satisfied with our current business results — even if they are as expected — but we are optimistic for the second half of the year.” Sales rose 13% to €9.4 billion (£8 billion), while earnings fell almost 20% to €411 million. Hopes stemmed from a €6 billion order book.
Difficulties include “the geopolitical uncertainties as a result of the war against Ukraine, disrupted supply chains and massive price increases for raw materials, semi-finished products, energy and logistics, coupled with the shortage of electronic components” as well as Covid lockdowns in China.
Professional services giant WSP today unveiled a takeover swoop worth £591 million for London-listed firm RPS.
The move for RPS, an Oxfordshire-based consultancy employing 5,000 staff across property, energy, transport, water, defence and government services, was delivered at a hefty premium of 76% to last night’s closing price. RPS’s project management portfolio includes work on the Woolwich Exchange regeneration scheme.
WSP, whose engineering services have been used to help deliver the net zero targets of Western Europe’s second tallest building at 22 Bishopsgate in the City, is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and is worth around £12 billion.
Its other recent deals have included John Wood’s environment and infrastructure business for $1.8 billion (£1.5 billion).
Shares in former FTSE 250-listed RPS jumped by 87p to 204p after its board backed WSP’s proposal.
The developments came as investment bank Peel Hunt reported a further slowdown in UK takeover activity after 2021’s record year.
It said that 30 UK companies are currently under offer, reflecting a flurry of action in the natural resources sector but still lower than 38 at the end of June as rising interest rates and the uncertain outlook cool interest in merger and acquisitions.
The lack of takeover activity hasn’t impacted the recent performance of the FTSE 100 index, which continues to be near its highest level in two months after adding 6.84 points to 7489.21 today.
Companies with momentum include London Stock Exchange and investment platform Hargreaves Lansdown, with their shares up a further 2% and 1% after results on Friday boosted confidence.
The FTSE 250 index eased 18.57 points to 20,099.87, with defence technology company Qinetiq up 2% or 7.4p to 388.2p after following Friday’s acquisition of US-based Avantus Federal with a $45 million (£37.2 million) contract win.
Shares in serviced offices provider IWG fell 11% or 22p to 171p despite the benefits of hybrid working helping the former Regus business to narrow half-year losses.
Revenues grew 23% year-on-year but IWG is also facing inflationary pressures on employment costs and utilities as well as accelerated investment.
The FTSE 100 index is broadly unchanged at 7477, representing the latest consolidation of gains seen since mid-July.
Companies with momentum include London Stock Exchange and Hargreaves Lansdown, with their shares up 2% and 1% after results on Friday boosted confidence.
BP also rose 0.5% but financial services business Abrdn dropped 3% and InterContinental Hotels fell 1% in the wake of their half-year results.
The FTSE 250 index was flat at 20,118, with defence technology company Qinetiq up another 2% after following up on Friday’s acquisition of US-based Avantus Federal with the announcement of a $45 million (£37.2 million) contract win.
Shares in flexible workspace provider IWG fell 13% despite the benefits of hybrid working helping the former Regus business to narrow half-year losses to £70.2 million.
In the FTSE All-Share, environmental consultancy business RPS surged 74% after it backed a takeover from Canada’s WSP worth £591 million.
The FTSE 100 index rose 0.6% yesterday after a better-than-expected performance in Chinese exports for July led to optimism over a pick-up in global economic activity.
For US markets, the positive mood soured after chipmaker Nvidia scaled back forecasts on the back of a big slide in gaming revenues against the previous year’s boom.
Nvidia’s shares closed 6% lower and this contributed to the Nasdaq finishing in negative territory. The S&P 500 also ended the session marginally lower as attention turns to tomorrow’s publication of the US inflation reading for July.
There was some encouragement on the prices front yesterday when US consumer inflation expectations for the year ahead fell to 6.2%, the lowest reading in five months.
Today’s session looks set to see European markets open flat or slightly lower, with CMC Markets forecasting the FTSE 100 index will be unchanged at 7482.