There is a slow start for UK stocks on Thursday as several stocks trade ex-dividend and after weakness in Asia overnight. The FTSE 100 down 0.4% to 7,169.14.

Industrial turnaround specialist Melrose Industries (MRO) gains 4.1% to 187.4p as full-year adjusted pre-tax profit almost trebles thanks to its acquisition of British engineering group GKN last year.

It reports a pre-tax profit of £703m for 2018m, up from £258m posted a year earlier. It also posts a 36% year-on-year increase in adjusted diluted earnings per share to 13.3p.  However, the required accounting for the GKN purchase meant that overall, it declares a statutory operating loss of £392m, compared with £7m in 2017.

Insurance firm Aviva (AV.) falls 3.1% to 419.7p as a rise in profit led by growth in its life business is offset by weakness in its fund management businesses.

For the 12 months ended to 31 December, pre-tax profit rose 6.3% to £2.13bn and operating earnings per share was up 7% to 58.4p.

Operating profit across its business rose to £3.12bn for the year, from £3.06bn in the year earlier.

Bakery chain Greggs (GRG) says it expects to declare a special dividend in July after reporting annual profits in line with guidance as performance improved in the second half following a weather-related lull in the first half.

Boosted by media coverage and strong sales for its vegan sausage roll, in the 12 months ended 29 December pre-tax profits excluding exceptional items rose 9.8%.

This was in line with previous guidance given in November for full year profit before tax, excluding exceptional charges, of at least £86m. The shares tick up 0.2% to £18.15.

Lending company Funding Circle (FCH) reports wider annual losses as costs related to its IPO offset a sharp jump in revenues.

For the 12 months ending 31 December, the company reports a loss of £50.7m from a loss of £36.3m a year earlier, while revenues rose 55% to £141.9m exceeding guidance for a 50% rise and helping the shares to a 3.2% gain to 362.4p.

Non-life insurer Admiral (ADM) says profit rose by nearly a fifth in 2018 even as its UK motor business slowed in the second half in the face of rising claims costs. Its shares are down 5.6% to £20.69 as investors focus on the latter.

Media group Informa (INF) gains 2.5% to 729.5p as it reports an increase in annual profit supported by acquisitions.

For the 12 months to 31 December, reported pretax profit rose 5.2% to £282.1m, reported revenue was up 35% to £2.37bn.

Oil producer Premier Oil (PMO) returns to profit in 2018, with a net profit of $133.4m compared to a net loss of $235.8m in 2017 as it achieved higher production and prices for its oil.

It produced 80,500 barrels of oil per day last year, compared with 75,000 a year earlier thanks to increased output from its Catcher development. It shares advance 4.9% to 77.5p.

Asset management software firm Alfa Financial (ALFA) gains 20.6% to 148.6p as it shows signs of recovery in the second half of 2018, with revenue increasing by 16% on the first half.

Estate agent Countrywide (CWD) slumps 11.4% to 9.3p as it warns on 2019 performance in a tough property market.

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Issue Date: 07 Mar 2019