FTSE 250 movers: Cussons slips on results; British Land gains
Personal care consumer goods maker PZ Cussons on Tuesday held annual guidance despite a fall in full-year profits as cost inflation and issues at its Nigerian operation continued to weigh.
The maker of Imperial Leather soap said pre-tax profit fell 4.2% to £61.8m as revenue rose 10% to £656.3m. Earnings were hit by a a £16.5m impairment at the Sanctuary Spa brand, as well as increased investment in its transformation plans.
Cussons said performance in the current fiscal year to date had been in line with expectations, with modest year on year growth in like-for-like revenue and a higher operating profit margin.
"We have seen continued good revenue growth in Nigeria and Australia/New Zealand, a stable performance in the UK, offset by a further decline in Indonesia. We therefore expect to deliver adjusted operating profit within the range of current market expectations," the company said.
Current consensus forecasts are for a adjusted operating profit in range of £61.5m - £68.2m.
Cussons earlier this month offered to buy the minority-held shares in its Nigeria business for £22.8m and delist the firm in a deal management said would strengthen its operation in the African nation where currency and political volatility has been an issue.
Real estate giant British Land said it has seen "continued momentum" in the second quarter, with leasing income growth continuing to outpace estimated rental value (ERV).
British Land, whose flagship investments include Broadgate Circle in Central London and the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, achieved 1.2m square foot of leasing across its £13bn portfolio in the five months to 31 August, some 13.1% ahead of ERV.
Meanwhile, a further 1.1m sq ft was under offer, 17.4% ahead of ERV.
In the first quarter, leasing was 11% ahead of ERV while under-offer leases were 15.5% ahead of ERV.
In the Retail division, which accounted for the bulk of space leased during the second quarter, the company said it is now targeting retail park ERV growth of 3-5% for the full year, ahead of previous guidance of 2-4%.
"I am pleased with the continued momentum in the business. Operationally we are seeing strong leasing activity which reflects the exceptional quality of our portfolio and has resulted in our recent upgrade of the expected ERV growth in retail parks," said chief executive Simon Carter.
"We have also strengthened our balance sheet in the period and continue to actively recycle capital with the disposal of non-core assets ahead of book value."
Meanwhile, in the Campuses division, negotiations are continuing over 1.7m sq ft of space.
Late last year, Meta pulled out of a lease at British Land's 1 Triton Square at its Regent's Place asset. The surrender of the lease resulted in a £149m payment received this week, British Land said.
"Although this will result in a EPS dilution, post interest savings, of c.0.6p for the six months to March FY24 we are comfortable with current market expectations for FY24 due to better collection of historic COVID arrears than anticipated," the company said.
Carter sad that Meta's exit will enable the group to "accelerate our plans to reposition Regent's Place as London's premier Innovation and Life Sciences campus."
Van rental firm Redde Northgate said demand continued to outstrip supply in the UK and Ireland as it made a strong start to the current fiscal year.
In a brief trading statement ahead of its annual general meeting on Tuesday, Redde said while vehicles were starting to arrive in greater quantities, "these are not yet across the product range or at sufficient volumes to satisfy continued demand".
"Spain is enjoying both supply and demand momentum and this is supporting growth and feeding through to a reduction of average fleet age," it added.
"We remain focused on supporting rental sectors with the strongest long-term growth prospects. Residual values reflect current new vehicle prices and so, as previously guided, remain significantly above historic levels in both regions, which will be seen in ongoing elevated disposal profits."
Software, security and cloud services specialist Bytes Technology Group described a solid first-half performance in a trading update on Tuesday, recording significant year-on-year growth in gross invoiced income.
The FTSE 250 company said it had also seen a surge in gross and adjusted operating profits, with both metrics registering double-digit growth.
The board noted that the uptrend underscored the company's expanding market share in the corporate and public sectors.
At the end of the first half, the company recorded a net cash position of £51.3m after dispensing £30m in final and special dividends.
Concerning cash conversion, the board said the first half aligned with its typical skew towards the latter part of the year, forecasting a robust cash conversion for the entire year.
“We continue to demonstrate the strength of our business model by again delivering double-digit growth amid challenging macroeconomic conditions,” said chief executive officer Neil Murphy.
“The positive start to our financial year, coupled with ongoing investment in our operations, positions us well for the rest of the year.”
Bytes Technology Group said it would release its detailed half-year results for the six months ended 31 August on 25 October.
FTSE 250 (MCX) 18,399.45 -0.09%
FTSE 250 - Risers
Wizz Air Holdings (WIZZ) 1,971.00p 6.22%
IG Group Holdings (IGG) 669.00p 4.78%
British Land Company (BLND) 326.50p 3.29%
Bytes Technology Group (BYIT) 513.50p 3.07%
North Atlantic Smaller Companies Inv Trust (NAS) 3,630.00p 2.54%
FDM Group (Holdings) (FDM) 514.00p 1.98%
Direct Line Insurance Group (DLG) 182.25p 1.82%
OSB Group (OSB) 332.20p 1.78%
Spirent Communications (SPT) 137.80p 1.70%
Redde Northgate (REDD) 340.00p 1.64%
FTSE 250 - Fallers
Coats Group (COA) 74.20p -6.19%
Vesuvius (VSVS) 420.00p -4.28%
Ferrexpo (FXPO) 75.90p -3.37%
Kainos Group (KNOS) 1,176.00p -3.29%
AJ Bell (AJB) 284.80p -3.20%
Bakkavor Group (BAKK) 92.20p -2.95%
TUI AG Reg Shs (DI) (TUI) 439.40p -2.87%
PZ Cussons (PZC) 156.00p -2.50%
IWG (IWG) 146.80p -2.39%
Wood Group (John) (WG.) 155.40p -2.33%