Persimmon forward sales rise, Hiscox swings to full-year loss
The FTSE 100 is expected to open 41 points higher on Wednesday, having closed up 0.38% on Tuesday at 6,613.75.
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Persimmon said forward sales were 15% higher than a year ago as the housebuilder reported an 18% decline in annual profit. Underlying pre-tax profit for the year to the end of December fell to £863m from £1.05bn as revenue dropped to £3.3bn from £3.7bn. Persimmon reported forward sales of £2.3bn and average private weekly sales for the first eight weeks of 2021 up 7%. After paying a 110p per share dividend for 2020 the company said it intended to pay a total return of 235p per share to shareholders in 2021 subject to board review.
Insurer Hiscox swung to a full-year loss driven by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic as gross written premiums were held steady. The company on Wednesday reported a pre-tax loss of $268.5m, compared with a profit of $53m. Gross premiums written maintained at $4bn “in challenging conditions”. Covid-19 reserves unchanged at $475m and no final dividend was declared.
Polymetal reported a 28% improvement in revenue in its preliminary results for 2020 on Wednesday, to $2.85bn. The FTSE 100 miner said its adjusted EBITDA was ahead 57% over 2019 at $1.69bn, as its underlying earnings per share rocketed 82% to $2.28. Its board proposed a final dividend for the year of 89 cents per share, taking the total dividend for the year to $1.29, up 57% over 2019.
Complaints to the financial ombudsman about a type of high-cost loan where the debt is backed by a relative or friend have leapt by more than 3,000% in a year and are running at almost 800 a week. The surge in the number of unhappy customers means that subprime lender Amigo – the biggest provider of so-called guarantor loans – has become the UK’s most complained-about financial firm, according to the latest data. - Guardian
The crisis engulfing Greensill Capital, a controversial bank that employs former UK prime minister David Cameron, mounted on Tuesday night when it emerged that Germany’s financial watchdog has taken direct oversight of operations at a local subsidiary of the London-based lender. Greensill Capital is seeking insolvency protection in Australia and a rescue deal with new and existing backers, after two Swiss banks announced they were closing funds linked to the business over concerns about its true value. - Guardian
Britain should use its newfound Brexit freedom to turbocharge the City after Brexit, according to the author of a landmark review into stock market rules. Calling for a wide-ranging overhaul of regulations which would slash red tape and allow company founders to retain more power, Jonathan Hill said that the country cannot simply wait for the European Union to grant it access. - Telegraph
The boss of the world’s largest private equity firm took home at least $610.5 million last year. Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire co-founder of Blackstone Group, received more than any other private equity executive in dividends and compensation in 2020, according to regulatory filings. Jonathan Gray, his right-hand man and the firm’s president, received at least $216.1 million. - The Times
A top interdealer broker has launched a legal action against two former associates over the alleged theft of funds earmarked for British tax payments. BGC Partners told investors that $35.2 million had been stolen, but that it expects to recover “most or substantially all” of the funds through insurance and litigation. The alleged theft did not “involve the operations or business of the company”, it said.- The Times
Stocks on Wall Street finished in the red on Tuesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing down 0.46% at 31,391.52.
The S&P 500 lost 0.81% to 3,870.29, and the Nasdaq Composite was off 1.69% to 13,358.79 at the closing bell.