Legal & General leaves dividend unchanged, William Hill revenue slumps
The FTSE 100 is expected to open 36 points higher on Wednesday, having closed up 0.05% at 6,036.00 on Tuesday.
Stocks to watch
Legal & General left its interim dividend unchanged as the insurer reported a 73% decline in first-half profit caused by low interest rates and investment losses. Pretax profit fell for the six months to the end of June fell to £285m from £1.1bn. Operating profit fell 6% to £946m. The FTSE 100 company proposed a first-half dividend of 4.93p a share - the same as a year earlier.
Bookmaker William Hill reported an underlying first-half loss as revenue slumped following the cancellation of sporting events due to the coronavirus pandemic and announced 119 UK shops would not reopen post Covid-19 lockdown. The gambling company posted pre-tax profits of £148.5m in the six months to June 30 compared with a loss of £38.1m a year ago thanks to a £200m sales tax refund. Revenue fell 32% to £544.4m reflecting the lack of sports to bet on.
UDG Healthcare said on Wednesday that, given the improvement in visibility across the divisions, it was reinstating its financial guidance for the 2020 financial year. The FTSE 250 company said it expected adjusted diluted earnings per share for the year ending 30 September to be between 43 and 45 US cents (33p to 34p). It said that guidance assumed no material increase in current Covid-19 restrictions.
Just 36 out of the UK’s 100 biggest companies reduced their chief executive’s pay in order to help their firm navigate the coronavirus pandemic and economic crisis, according to an analysis of executive pay that found FTSE-100 CEOs are now handed, on average, the same as nearly 120 full-time workers. Research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the High Pay Centre published on Wednesday shows that the majority of FTSE 100 companies did not cut top executive pay, despite many of the firms turning to the taxpayer to pay the wages of furloughed workers. – Guardian
Virgin Atlantic has declared itself bankrupt and is seeking protection from creditors in the US, according to a court filing in New York on Tuesday. The airline is seeking protection under chapter 15 of the US bankruptcy code, which allows a foreign debtor to shield assets in the country. The announcement comes little more than a month after Virgin Atlantic announced it had secured funding to survive for another 18 months. – Guardian
Disney has posted its first loss in almost two decades after the coronavirus crisis created a perfect storm for the entertainment giant, in which most of its key businesses ground to a near-halt. – Telegraph
Frasers Group has agreed to open its first regional store since the Covid-19 outbreak at a retail park in Leicester. Mike Ashley’s retail group, formerly known as Sports Direct, is leasing 90,000 sq ft to create a “sports and lifestyle destination” at Fosse Park, which is owned by the Crown Estate, the Queen’s property company. – The Times
Travel restrictions are hampering efforts to get test flights arranged for Boeing’s revamped 737 Max aircraft, European regulators have warned. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency gave the update in the wake of the ruling by the Federal Aviation Administration, its American counterpart, on Monday that there was still more work to be done before the ban on flights could be lifted. – The Times
Wall Street’s main stock market gauges finished higher on Tuesday, buoyed by reports of possible further fiscal stimulus in the pipeline and some positive news on the pandemic front.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the session up 0.62% at 26,828.47, the S&P 500 added 0.36% to 3,306.51, and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.35% firmer at 10,941.17.
Sentiment was positive from the start of the session, after Donald Trump said overnight that he might use his executive powers to extend augmented unemployment insurance benefits, a now-expired moratorium on evictions, and to declare a holiday on payroll taxes.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, were due to meet on Tuesday to discuss the details of a possible fourth round of fiscal stimulus further, with both sides having said that some progress was made during similar talks on Monday.
As at the close, no news had emerged from such talks.
Some observers said that Democrats and Republicans remained far apart on their positions, with the former pushing for $1trn in extra aid for state and local governments and the latter seeking protections for employers against lawsuits related to Covid-19.