Luxury car dealer Inchcape (INCH) motors 7.3% higher to 630p as record first-half profits trigger earnings upgrades. A £100 million share buyback over the next 12 months also tempts punters. Underpinned by strong performances in Asia Pacific and Emerging Markets and a solid turn in Europe, the £2.7 billion cap reports 10.7% growth in pre-tax profits to £147 million, a faster pace that the 6.6% growth in sales to £3.3 billion. With £189.1 million net cash, Inchcape raises the half-time payout 43% to 5.7p. Investec analyst Andrew Fitchie raises his full-year profit forecast from £270 million to £272 million. Panmure Gordon's automotive retail scribes Mike Allen and Paul Jones remain buyers and raise their price target from 600p to 675p.
Majority state-owned lender Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) slips 3.9% to 320.5p after naming its UK retail head as its chief executive officer and reporting half-year results. We look at the news in more detail here.
The restructuring of Spanish national carrier Iberia is finally starting to bear fruit for International Consolidated Airlines (IAG), its share price up 5.7% to 314p. It has achieved a €245 million second quarter operating profit, up from a €4 million loss in the same period a year ago. We look at the numbers in more detail here.
Investors are clearly relieved that US defence spending cuts only sliced $12 million off Inmarsat (ISAT) revenues. Total sales for the half year were largely flat at $640.3 million. It could have been worse, hence why the shares bounce 6% to 716.5p. The satellite operator's energy industry deal with RigNet also looks promising, but there remains caution for the immediate future with delays increasingly likely to its GX services launch, as Shares recently spelled out.
There's a sigh of relief that half-year results from Europe's biggest hedge fund Man (EMG) are not as bad as many feared, sending the shares up 6.6% to 89.1p. Total assets under management dropped $2.8 billion over the second quarter to $52 billion.
Home insurer Direct Line (DLG) slips 1.2% to 232.3p as management hint that the market is becoming more competitive, therefore shifting attention away from news that first-half profits have almost doubled. Cost cutting helped the insurer’s pre-tax profits grow 96% to £208.8 million, while its gross written premiums were 4% down reflecting a tough UK personal market. Management reported a 6.5% improvement in its combined ratio to 94.6% and increased the interim dividend by 5% to 4.2p.
Bookmaker William Hill (WMH) slips 5.9% to 465.5p as half-year results aren't quite as impressive as one might first assume. A 4% rise in pre-tax profit before one-off items is slightly higher than consensus forecasts but earnings growth has been flattered by a low tax charge. Analysts haven't found reason to upgrade their forecasts; Canaccord Genuity and Numis even reduce earnings assumptions from recently-acquired Sportingbet as the Australian operation only managed to produce a small operating profit.
Can manufacturer Rexam (REX) ticks up 2.4% to 518p after indicating it still expects year-on-year improvement in its 2012 results despite first-half profits falling 2% to £169 million. The company, which makes cans for Coca-Cola and Carlsberg beer, previously warned on profits in June as we discussed here.
Engineer Vesuvius (VSVS), which makes ceramic moulds and lining for steelmakers and foundries, forges ahead 7.2% to 471.5p despite an 11% fall in trading profit to £71 million in the first half. Investors preferred to focus on a maiden dividend of 4.75p (Vesuvius was formed last December when Cookson split into two companies) and 16-fold increase in free cashflow to £38.2 million.
Heavily sold down since March on concerns about volatile trading conditions, a reassuring half-year statement and juicy 20% dividend hike put Fiberweb (FWEB) back on an upwards curve. The shares rise 3.8% to 75.75p.