Annual results for the year 31 March 2018 from Vodafone (VOD) are overshadowed by the shock news that chief executive officer (CEO) Vittorio Colao is to leave.

The boss plans to step down in October after 10 years in charge of the world’s second largest mobile operator, and will be succeeded by finance director Nick Read, the company said on Tuesday.

Vodafone figures are somewhat patchy with revenue down 2.2% to €46.6bn, primarily due to the creation of its joint-venture VodafoneZiggo in the Netherlands, and foreign exchange movements. On a brighter note, operating profit jumped €600m to €4.3bn, reflecting ‘operational leverage and the benefit of cost efficiency initiatives.’

At a pre-tax level Vodafone returned to the black after the previous year’s €6.1bn loss, posting a €2.8bn profit. However, investors are left feeling nervous about substantial management change coming just days after the group agreed a €18.4bn deal to buy various cable assets across Europe from Liberty Global, sending the shares spinning to the head of the FTSE 100 loser board on Tuesday, down nearly 4% to 199.08p.

NO NEW NEWS ON VIRGIN DEAL

Britain’s CYBG (CYBG) reported a loss of £76m for the first half of the year on Tuesday, as it booked a previously-announced £350m charge for the mis-selling of payment protection insurance.

The company, which owns the Yorkshire Bank and Clydesdale Bank brands, saw its shares weaken by about 1% on Tuesday to 320p. CYBG is currently in negotiations over a takeover of rival Virgin Money (VM.).

British low-cost airline EasyJet (EZJ) posted a narrower half year pre-tax loss and guided that it expected revenue per seat to be positive in the second half of the year.

Investors view this as a fine performance against a backcloth that has seen the failure of several budget airlines in recent months, including Air Berlin, Alitalia and Monarch. That explains why shares in the discount flyer top the FTSE 100 leader board in early trade on Tuesday, rallying close on 3% to £17.30.

EasyJet’s total loss before tax was £68m for the six months ended 31 March 2018 compared to a loss of £236m for the same period last year.

MR KIPLING BAKER SEES PROFITS RISE

Britain’s Premier Foods (PFD) on Tuesday reported a 3.6% rise in full year sales helped by its international business and partnerships with Nissin and Mondelez.

Adjusted pre-tax profits rose 5.9% to £78.6m.

That sees shares in the debt-pressured business nudge around 2% higher to 38.45p.

Housebuilder Taylor Wimpey (TW.) plans to hike future dividends as it signals confidence in growth prospects. This is part of new growth and returns targets that will be set out at a capital market day on Tuesday.

Shares in the company rise 2.5% to 199.85p.

UK support services company DCC (DCC) reported an 11.1% rise in full year operating profit on Tuesday, driven by strong growth across all its divisions. But that’s not enough to keep investors onside, shares in the business ebbing 1.6% lower to £71.05.

CAR DEALER OPTIMISTIC

Positive trading updates come in from the transport industry as the vans rental business Northgate (MTG) and car dealer Lookers (LOOK) both signal optimism.

Northgate flags ongoing margin improvements, while Lookers reports a 33% profits jump from new car sales despite overall registrations declining. Shares in the pair rally around 6% higher to 399.2p and 104.8p respectively.

Oil prices held firm on Tuesday as ongoing production cuts by OPEC and looming US sanctions against Iran tightened the market amid signs of ongoing strong demand.

Gold prices also inch higher on safe-haven buying, but upside potential for the metal was capped by a firm dollar and outlook for further interest rate hikes in the United States.

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Issue Date: 15 May 2018