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Premarket London: Next Raises Guidance After Strong Christmas

Stock MarketsJan 03, 2020 02:17AM ET
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© Reuters. -- Here is a summary of the most important regulatory news releases from the London Stock Exchanges on Friday, 3rd January. Please refresh for updates.

  • Retailer Next (LON:NXT) nudged up its forecasts for full-year profit and sales after a Christmas holiday season that went marginally better than it expected.
  • The company also gave initial guidance for the year ending 2021, saying it expects per-share earnings to rise 3.5% on a 3% increase in sales on a comparable basis. For the current year, it now sees EPS at 458.7p, up 5.4% on this year.
  • In the crucial two-month period before Christmas, Next said full-price product sales rose 5.3% from last year’s levels, helped by a much colder November and improved stock availability. Sales fell 3.9% at the company’s high street stores but rose 15.3% via its online channel.
  • The company also said changes to the way the U.K. authorities collect corporate income tax mean that it will reduce the distribution of surplus cash to shareholders by 35 million pounds in the next two fiscal years, in order to keep its financial debt down.
    • British American Tobacco (LON:BATS) put a brave face on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s move to clamp down on flavoured vaping products, saying that it is “well positioned” to meet the new regulatory requirements.
    • BAT said its U.S. subsidiary Reynolds American (NYSE:RAI) has already filed one so-called Pre-Market Tobacco Application with the FDA and will make further applications for approval of the rest of its vapor portfolio by the May 12 deadline.
    • On Thursday, the FDA had announced a ban on sales of fruit- and mint-flavored vaping cartridges but said it would still allow those flavors to be sold from tanks in vaping shops. All vaping products will, however, need to have asked for regulatory approval by May 12.
    • The measures are thus more of a blow to those that already have such products widely available on the market than to BAT, which has lagged players such as Juul Labs and NJOY.

    Energy markets regulator Ofgem said that power generators Oersted (CSE:ORSTED) and RWE (DE:RWEG_p) will each pay 4.5 million pounds ($5.9 million) into its redress fund in connection with the massive blackout that left millions of customers without power on Aug. 9 last year.

    Orsted's Hornsea One wind farm and RWE's Little Barford went offline after a lightning strike, causing a disruption to power supplies that lasted several hours.

    Ofgem additionally exacted a 1.5 million pound payment from U.K. Power Networks, a local power distributor, for reconnecting customers without permission by the system operator "which could have jeopardised recovery of the system."

    UKPN is owned by Li Ka Shing's CK Infrastructure Holdings.

    Discount airline Ryanair (LON:RYA) said it ended the year with a 9% rise in passengers to 11.2 million. The group’s main airline posted a 7% increase in passengers to 10.7 million, while its recently acquired Lauda subsidiary raised passengers by 67% to 0.5 million.

    Elsewhere, chief executive Michael O’Leary told the German magazine Wirtschaftswoche that he expects yet more delays to the delivery of the 737 MAX aircraft the group has ordered from Boeing (NYSE:BA).

    "We were meant to have 58 planes by the summer," Reuters quoted him as saying in the interview, extracts from which were published on Friday. "That went down to 30, then 20, then 10 and the latest is maybe only five. It's possible we'll only get the first jets in October 2020."

    Premarket London: Next Raises Guidance After Strong Christmas

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